On this page, we will offer multiple recommendations of books that are useful for the reader in understanding eschatology (end times). Books are in order by author last name.
Ralph Bass, Back to the Future
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From the introductory paragraph we are told that given the proper historical context, "the pages [of Revelation] open to our understanding like petals on a beautiful flower." You know this is going to be good!
The author is a pastor who was a dispensationalist for 33 years and now holds back no punches against his former paradigm. All the common arguments are dealt with, such as the supposed rapture between Chs. 3 & 4, along with neat little gotchas such as a dispensational necessity of not one but two rebuilt temples, and so on. The author speaks authoritatively and decisively, which is a nice change from the common tendency for commentators to be merely "presenting" views, as though we were all in the strip mall of ideas just picking one that fitted our particular taste. The author's 15-page bibliography reflects impressive and exhaustive research of what is included.
The book is chock-full of great scripture references and connections, including demonstrations of Deuteronomical and Levitical curse fulfillments and the great prostitute "Babylon" as sort of a divine political cartoon against Jerusalem. The presentation of Chapter 5 as a courtroom scene, with the "little book" as a divorce decree against Israel, explains the scene wonderfully. Great historic insights are given about the cities of the seven churches, including a better understanding of the Laodicean message you are not likely to find elsewhere. Josephus is quoted nicely throughout the judgment scenes. (One interesting curveball in Ch 12 is the suggestion that Michael the archangel is in fact Jesus Himself!) The numbers in Revelation (for instance, the 144,000, the dimensions of New Jerusalem, etc.) are not merely stated as symbolic, but are also shown to have suited the message well. And though it is akin to giving away the end of a movie you must see for yourself, there is an excellent section explaining the "New Jerusalem" in Chs. 21-22 as a description of the Church (as opposed to heaven).
One might find two things that disappoint. In Ch 20 there is a rather unjustified insistence of 1 Thess 4:13-17 and Acts 1:11 being yet in our future, and the comments in Ch 12 and Ch 20 on Satan were not particularly useful. But how pure does a diamond have to be?
In truth I left this book as though my mission of understanding Revelation had finally been accomplished! I also realized that correct interpretations of scripture are enhanced, not challenged, by other scriptures, and in turn, other scriptures are better understood. This book is a joy to the seasoned prophecy student and fully accessible to the newcomer. It is indeed a healthy endeavor and has potential to do very much good.
Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness
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The last paragraph in the preface to this book tells it all, and tells it hard. It reads:
"Last Days Madness was written to take a fresh look at the Bible. There is little that's new in the following pages. As you will read, the views expressed herein have been around for centuries. Unfortunately, they have been buried under millions of copies of paperback books that has assured us year after year that the end is near. If you are afraid to have your views challenged, then I suggest you stop reading now."
Wow, that is an attention grabber. And grab your attention, the book certainly does. It advocates the orthodox preterist view of eschatology, in a nutshell, that most [not all] of the prophecies in the New Testament concerning the Coming of Christ were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This book is that foundational presentation and a very well-stated one at that.
This book will seriously challenge any species of futurism (dispensational eschatology). It presents a very well-detailed Biblical case for preterism, shifting the argument rom the loaded accusation of whether or not one interprets the Bible literally to whether or not one interprets the Bible Biblically. It is ironic how those who use a "literal" interpretation all of sudden aren't quite so literal on timing verses, i.e. Jesus' solemn declaration that ALL of the events of the Olivet Discourse would take place before the generation that heard his pronouncement passed away. It is hard to give up previously cherished doctrinal views, but they must give way to the Bible. And it is just not Biblical to "literalize" obvious apocalyptic imagery and to allegorize out of meaningful discourse didactic time statements.
Gary has a saying "No Fear of the Text." I love that. I remember the first time I came across Matthew 24:34. It was very obvious what it meant and what it said. It took a lot of effort and self-delusionment to allow me to live with a rationalization that projected those events thousands of years into the future, but now, I have no fear of the text. Yes, God says what He means, and means what He says.
-- "Dee Dee Warren"
Gary Demar, End Times Fiction
Buy This Book NowThis is yet another in a series of books promoting the preterist view of eschatology, and the second (the first work being The Last Days According to Jesus by R.C. Sproul) to be published by a major Christian publisher. However, I don't anticipate this one getting the shelf time at the local Family Christian Bookstores as Sproul's book did for several reasons.
First, DeMar just doesn't have the clout in the mainstream Christian community that Sproul does, and second, taking a frontal assault on the Christian popular fiction series, Left Behind, [hereinafter LB] is not going to be taken well by bookstore owners. Not that it shouldn't be: Apparently it is perfectly okay to sell the wares of those who deny the Trinity (i.e. T.D. Jakes and Philips, Craig, and Dean) but it is not okay to show that the Bible teaches that the Antichrist isn't really going to allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple and that maybe nobody is going to try and implant microchips in our foreheads.
While I really did not care for The Last Days According to Jesus at all as a primer in preterism, this book readily fills that void. I have already done a review on DeMar’s Last Days Madness above, [hereinafter LDM] which I had recommended as a good starting point to learn about preterism, I would recommend this book above LDM, especially for anyone who has actually read at least the first book in the LB series. It is basically LDM "lite" that captivates the interest in the way that it interacts with the LB premise.
Some may object that it is just not proper to subject a fictional book, LB, to such a theological analysis. However, while LB is admittedly fictional in its details, the foundational premise of the book is in fact the foundational eschatology of the authors and of much of the church today. Countless people believe, whether told so explicitly or not, that this fictional book is in fact based on the nonfictional time and story line found in the Bible (witness The DaVinci Code). Countless people use this book as a witnessing tool to nonbelieving loved ones as a way to introduce them to Biblical principles and to warn them of the impending disaster that may happen within our lifetimes.
All of this necessarily begs the following questions: Does LB accurately present Biblical teachings and is there really an impending disaster foretold to us by the Bible? Will there really be anyone left behind?
I was pleased with the respectful way that DeMar treats Tim LaHaye (one of the authors of LB) throughout despite their significant disagreements on eschatology. The fact is that LaHaye has done some great Christian services, to say the least, the founding of the Institute for Creation Research, and is a man worthy of our respect. Thus, this book is a good example of how to disagree with someone you can still respect. I appreciated that.
However, that being said, DeMar does not sugarcoat the disagreement, or his final analysis that LaHaye is just not being Biblical in his approaches, or even consistent with his own eschatological viewpoint at times.
As I often do in my reviews, I have extracted out a portion of the book which I think sums up its theme or purpose very well. This extract is a mock conversation between DeMar and a futurist and goes as follows:
"This morning we're going to discuss Bible prophecy. I've been asked by your Sunday school teacher to spend a couple of weeks on the Great Tribulation. But before we begin, I would like to ask a question: When is the Great Tribulation? That's hard to say since we don't know when the Rapture will occur. I believe that the Tribulation period is near because the signs leading up to the time of the Rapture are near: wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues. It's going to happen soon."
"What do you mean by near and soon?"
"Well, I believe that we're living in the last days. Near, like in any day now or at least in my lifetime. We can't go on much longer."
"Let me understand what you're saying. You believe that the Rapture is near. And by near you mean that the Rapture could take place in our lifetime. Would these words qualify as synonyms for near? Soon... at hand...around the corner... close... shortly... approaching... impending?"
"Yes. You could add imminent and any moment."
"I want to be sure I am not putting words in your mouth. Do you understand what I mean when I say, 'This class is nearly over... The time for the bell to ring is near... This class will end shortly?'"
"If someone were to say, 'There are twenty reasons why Jesus is coming soon,' you would understand him to mean that Jesus' coming is near at hand. Close at hand. Not two thousand years in the future."
"Yes. I think that's pretty clear."
"Good. Now turn to the Book of Revelation, the first chapter, verse 1 and 3. What do these verses tell us about the timing of the events in Revelation?"
"Well, verse 1 says that the things revealed to John 'must shortly take place.' Verse 3 says, 'The time is near.'"
"But two thousand years have passed. How is it possible that the majority of prophetic events in Revelation have not taken place when the Bible tells us that the things revealed to John, 'must shortly take place… for the time is near'? Why don't near and shortly mean 'anytime' or at least 'in my lifetime' to those who first read the prophecy in Revelation? To say it another way, why didn't shortly and near mean to the first century what they mean to us today?"
"No one has ever raised the question before. I'm not sure I have an answer."
Also in this book is a very helpful section on defusing the accusation raised by some futurists against the preterists that only the futurist interpretation takes the Bible literally. What exactly do we mean by literal anyway? When Ezekiel 38 describes a war fought with ancient weapons, it is actually only the preterist that takes the passage literally. How literal is it to partly base one's argument that the church is "raptured" before the Tribulation on the fact that the word "church" is not used after Revelation 4 and yet see the Antichrist on almost every page of the same Book when that word is not used even once (which is quite odd considering that the only time that word is used is in another Book by the same human author).
The whole charge of "spiritualizing" that is often used against anyone disagreeing with a LB scenario is a diversion. The question to be asked is not whether or not an interpretation is literal but whether or not an interpretation is Biblical.
-"Dee Dee Warren"
Kenneth Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell
Buy This Book NowDr. Gentry is one of the leading scholarly advocates of the orthodox preterist view of prophecy. This position is largely driven by the very clear "near" time indicators in Scripture, such as these opening statements in Revelation:
Revelation 1:10-3: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants-things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Obviously, for this view to be correct, then Revelation must have been written prior to AD70, more specifically during the reign of Nero. This is contrary to the opinion of some scholarship and popular belief that the Revelation was written by the Apostle John during the reign of Domitian around 96AD.
However, how strong is the foundation for the belief of the later date for Revelation? Surprisingly, not stronger than the case for the earlier date, and in some points, even weaker. In fact, there is much more modern scholarship coming around to advocacy of the earlier date on grounds that have nothing or little to do with preterism whatsoever. John A. T. Robinson, in Redating the New Testament, argued for all of the NT to be dated before 70AD, independent of any eschatological concerns. Norman Geisler has acknowledged this fact during his "Twelve Points that Prove Christianity True" presentation by stating that modern scholarship has proven that there really is no reason for dating any of the New Testament books after 70AD.
Unfortunately, it appears that some futurist commentators are not objectively examining the evidence, but rather are so opposed to preterism that they rigidly fix the battle at this point (despite the fact that the evidence does not allow such dogmatism) since preterism cannot be true if the later date is. However, an early date does not prove preterism in any event, it just makes preterism possible.
The book's 4th edition has a lengthy preface dealing with the challenges to Gentry's view that have emerged since its original writing and will be very helpful to the reader, but I would certainly suggest reading the book through it’s entirety first, and then going back and reading this preface. In fact, for ease of understanding (until one has read the main argument, these rebuttals are basically meaningless and disjointed), this section really should have been made an appendix. Gentry utilizes his belief that there is a change in subject in the Olivet Discourse beginning with Matthew 24:36 in order to provide a defense against one objection, and also relates 2 Peter 3 to the Second Coming, which again, most other preterist scholars disagree with him on.
I also found it disturbing that he did not challenge Thomas in his statement that 1 Corinthians 15 proves that Paul expected Christ’s return in his lifetime. It appears that Gentry only saw the statement about Paul which he would agree with as far as Christ’s "judgment-coming," but did not take note of the supporting verses, which Gentry would disagree spoke of Paul’s imminent expectation of the "Second Coming." If Gentry believed that, he would be a "full preterist" since he confesses, as do most preterists, that his adoption of the preterist view is driven by the clear, near time indicators in Scripture. If in fact the "resurrection-coming" of Christ was expected to be soon, then Gentry must hold that it in fact has occurred.
However, it is easily demonstrated that although Paul did expect the "judgment-coming" of Christ to be soon, he clearly recognized that the "resurrection-coming" was at least an age away, a fact not drawn out or recognized by most orthodox preterists (see my article, "On the Soon Coming of Jesus" linked from the hub page).
Gentry is much spunkier in his defense in his preface than in the rest of the material written almost ten years earlier and is quite enjoyable. In a similar way to my charge above regarding futuristic bias, he also has to fend off challenges in the other direction that his dating of Revelation is driven solely by his postmillennialism/theonomy (oddly enough, you would think the accusation would be that it was driven by his preterism). Unfortunately, some critics make these ideas absolutely dependent upon each other (rather than sticking to the raw dating issue) and influence their readers against Gentry’s thesis from the outset.
He demonstrated (in a sardonic manner) how one particular critic does this by naming his critique of Gentry’s position: "Theonomy and the Dating of Revelation." Since Gentry’s theonomy is never a factor in this work, such a juxtaposition is tactical rather than substantive, as Gentry says, "Thomas’s approach would be like someone writing an article entitled: 'White People and the Dating of Revelation.' The very title suggests an ethical problem at the outset." He also defeats the common and shallow charge that his view is blatantly anti-Semitic, which often is used as a pejorative way to avoid dealing with the evidence.
The body of the book is largely divided into two main sections (there is also a final section dealing specifically with the alleged Domitianic evidences put forth by late date advocates). The first deals with the external evidence, such as the testimony of the early church fathers, and the section deals with the internal evidence within the book itself.
I know that coming into this book, I had thought that the main strength of the "early date" position would be the internal evidence, with the external evidence, namely resting on Irenaeus’ statement, being against it. I was pleasantly surprised to see that was not the case. Gentry brings forth all of the available historical evidence, pro and con, and interacts with it in a very thoughtful and well-documented manner.
One of the most surprising bits of information that I found in this section is the Syriac witness to the early date, i.e. that the 6th and 7th century editions of the Syriac New Testament (earlier versions did not contain Revelation) contain the following subtitle to Revelation: "written in Patmos whither John was sent by Nero Caesar." Amazingly for me, at the end of his analysis of the external data, I could affirm Gentry’s final statement, "All things considered, however, even the external evidences leans towards a Neronic [not a Domitian] date." (insertion mine)
The part dealing with the internal evidence is very informative and almost a mini-commentary on Revelation itself. That makes this book useful not only for the dating issue, but also for exegetical issues, at least in some portions of Revelation. The internal evidence is quite convincing in several areas including the references to Jerusalem and the Temple which find their most natural referent in the first century. I found particularly interesting his discussion of the "number of the Beast," and the demonstration that the identification of the Beast with Nero not only fits the context of Revelation but helps to explain the textual variations of 666 and 616 in this verse. Of course, in typical preterist fashion, there is extensive discussion of the timing verses.
You'll definitely want to add this one to your collection if eschatology is more serious to you than the latest LaHaye/Jenkins fictions.
-"Dee Dee Warren"
Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code
Buy This Book NowThis work by Hank Hanegraaff is a very good basic introduction to preterism. In fact, in some ways, I think it is superior to Gary DeMar's Last Days Madness in equipping the reader to learn a methodology rather than simply an interpretation.
Additionally, Gary DeMar can be somewhat sloppy or ambiguous on particular concepts in refusing to deal head-on with hyperpreterism and its heretical nature in his written works and radio show. Hank has not shown this deficiency and has repeatedly in the past confronted hyperpreterism for the heresy that it is and does so quite strongly in an endnote in this work. That one fact alone predisposes me to favour this particular book over DeMar's.
There are some negative points which do not detract from the overall substance. One, I do not particularly care for Hank's use of acronyms. This book is set up around the acronym of LIGHTS, which stands for the following:
That particular type of learning technique does not particularly work for me but may appeal to others.
Another drawback, at least for me, it is the repetitive use of "Hankisms," pithy cliches that Hank is well-known for repeating on his show, The Bible Answer Man. In particular, the phrase "subjective flights of fancy" was used over a dozen times in this relatively short book.
In that regard, the whole book appears to me to have been rushed in the editorial process. There are formatting errors that are obvious even in a short read, and a lot of repetition that could have been edited for a much more polished work.
The last potential criticism that I have is Hank's use of the phrase "Exegetical Eschatology." That can appear to be a vapid ploy to make one's opposition wrong by definition. Evangelical futurists also sincerely believe that their eschatology is exegetical, no matter how mistaken they are. Many believe it is not a forthright move on Hank's part to not openly declare his view to be what it is: preterism.
After reading the book having that own impression in my own mind, I have backed away from that opinion as reading too much into a catch-phrase. Hank does in the endnotes identify himself as an orthodox preterist, and kudos to him for shunning the "partial preterism" label in that comment.
The main strength of this book lies in the way it attempts to teach a methodology behind the interpretation and interacts with specific points made by futurists, primarily Tim LaHaye as the most popular dispensational futurist today. Hank pulls no punches in his criticisms and demonstrates that eschatology does affect life and theology.
In one specific example, Hank discusses what he believes (and I agree) to be a certain sort of un-Biblical racism that undergirds dispensationalism in its elevation of being ethnically Jewish when the New Testament teaches no such thing. He continues with pointing out how foreign-policy and American attitudes towards different people groups in the Middle East are greatly shaped by the predominance of dispensationalism in America. He gave information about Arab Christians that I had personally never heard before, and I know that at least within my own theological circles, which are primarily dispensational, the heart is much more with non-believing ethnic Jews rather than our own brethren of Palestinian descent. Do good to all, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.
By far, the best chapter in my opinion was the one entitled "Grammatical Principle." Hank very cleverly opens with the following quotes:
We believe "this generation" refers to those alive in 1948. (Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins)
I have not had sex with her as I defined it. (William Jefferson Clinton)
He uses those quotes and others from LaHaye and Clinton to demonstrate what he calls the grammatical "baloney detector." And he is very effective.
He closes with the following statement: "To interpret Scripture Clintonian style is to turn Scripture into a wax nose capable of being twisted anyway the interpreter likes. When Jesus said "this generation," he did not mean that; when he used the pronoun you, his hearers knew precisely who he was talking about; and when he said "soon," his servants did not suppose he was referencing a time twenty-one centuries future in which two-thirds of the Jews in Palestine would perish for the sentence up there for fathers." 
All in all, an excellent introduction to preterism and a good book to recommend to your futurist friends. The extensive endnotes will prove useful for the more reader seeking to delve more into the issue.
-"Dee Dee Warren"
Thomas Ice and Kenneth Gentry, The Great Tribulation: Past or Future?
Buy This Book NowThe format of this book is a "debate" style between Kenneth Gentry defending the orthodox preterist view and Thomas Ice defending the futurist view. Each author presented his positive case followed by rebuttals to the other. There is a very useful recommended reading list at the end (but no Scripture index, which would have been nice).
Honestly, on first impression, I was surprised at how well (at least on first impression) Ice handled himself in light of my recent debates with futurists. I had first read some of the reviews of this book posted on Amazon, all of them from preterists, and you would think by just reading them that Ice was barely able to articulate a coherent thought. However, after reading thoroughly through the book, my initial impression of Ice's presentation was lessened somewhat, though I readily concede that he made some good points which will need to be addressed by preterists.
Gentry presented his case first and does something that I found extremely informative. He limits (due to the relative shortness of space for such a complex topic) himself mostly to the Olivet Discourse as recorded in Matthew 24, but first, does what very few people do, realizes that Matthew 24 does not happen in a vacuum but rather appears where and when it does in Matthew for reason. And in so doing, showing the building "impending judgment on the Jews" context of the entirety of Matthew, makes great sense of Matthew 24.
All of this background is done before one verse of the Discourse is exegeted, and to me, it was a wise move. However, (and I wish that Gentry did not do this), he mentions his peculiar belief (peculiar in that almost every preterist author disagrees with him on this point) that Matthew 24:35 and forward refer to the Second Coming of Christ. Since he was there to be representative of the preterist view, and most preterists disagree with him on this, I really wish he hadn't made that an issue or a topic of discussion. After the foundational piece on the theme and context of Matthew, he does a verse by verse exposition of the Discourse up through verse 34, where he places that much-disputed break. This part of his work is very similar to what DeMar does in Last Days Madness (see above).
Out of order with the book, I read Ice's rebuttal to Gentry. The amount of begged questions and assumptions were astounding. In all fairness though, length was limited to both authors, and not every point could be defended in depth by either. However, Ice put forth some bad arguments and spun one argument in such a way to claim that Gentry actually concedes on a point that he most certainly does not. Specifically, he tries to defuse the force of Matthew 24:34 by denying that there is validity to the preterist contention that since Jesus said "this" generation instead of "that" generation, the first century audience was in view.
First, he tries to claim that timing verses must be interpreted within context, which obviously is true. However, he determines the "context" in many cases (though inconsistent on this point) by deciding whether or not the things spoken of have come to pass yet, and if not, then the timing verse(s) must be interpreted in a way that makes it future. This is really putting the cart before the horse, and the Skeptics would have a field day with that one.
Second, he makes a great deal of hay out of Gentry's belief of a change in topic at Matthew 24:36. He shows (at least in his view and most preterists would agree with Ice against Gentry) that Gentry is inconsistent on this point because the "that" in "that day" (Matthew 24:36) refers back to the events preceding Matthew 24:34. Good enough so far, but he then surprisingly claims that the fact that Gentry holds to this change (and that Gentry contrasts "this generation' with "that day") that Gentry concedes that the fact that Jesus says "this generation" and not "that generation" does not mean anything towards demanding a first century context.
What? What Ice has done is shown that in his opinion "that day" cannot refer to different events than already spoken of, however, Gentry disagrees with assessment. To then take his own assertion that Gentry is wrong on "that day" as an agreed fact between the two and conclude that Gentry would then agree that there is no significance to the fact that Jesus said "this generation" rather than "that generation" is blatantly misrepresenting Gentry and is plainly a bait and switch.
Third, Ice does in some ways (though different in one very important way) the same thing as Gentry with flip-flopping between the first century and thousands of years (so far) into the future. He also tries to use this fact to show that Gentry cannot fault him for that since Gentry himself does the same thing. Specifically, Ice claims that only Luke records Jesus' answer to the disciples' question about the destruction of the Herodian temple, and this is found in Luke 21:20-24. Though there are numerous problems with this assertion, let me just point on out, in relation to his trying to claim that this is no different then Gentry positing that Matthew 24:36 and forward deal with the Second Coming. Gentry at least, finds the events that he believes are future AFTER the declaration that "this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled," thus, giving him some opportunity to exempt the Second Coming from "all these things." Luke 21:20-24 occurs BEFORE the timing verse mentioning "all these things," and if any of "all these things," can be found as happening in the first century, then "all" of the rest of them must as well, especially since Ice does concede that "this generation" means the generation that will see "all these things."
Also, Ice tries to "force preterism's hand" per se by trying to state that a move to "full preterism" is almost inevitable, and that preterism renders most of the New Testament's exhortations obsolete. This may be good for drama, but it is not exactly accurate. He closes his rebuttal with the very dramatic, "If the tribulation is past, we have no future."
Huh? Didn't Paul say that if the resurrection is not true, we have no future?
Ice in his main argument surprisingly hardly mentioned Matthew 24 at all, but preferred to spend most of his time in the Old Testament, basing his proof on a future Tribulation by stating that the Old Testament predicts a tribulation followed by the deliverance of Israel, not their judgment. Of course, this does beg the question of exactly who "Israel" is in the first place, and Ice does a great disservice by not pointing out to his readers that Gentry does believe that Israel was delivered in the AD70 event, he just has a different view of who is actually the true Israel. So Ice sets up a straw man, the issue between Gentry and Ice is not whether or not "Israel" or the "elect" are delivered, but who the identity of those designates are, which is a different issue entirely (to which I would also add the identity of "Jerusalem").
Ice, however, does not deal with the context of Matthew, nor rebut Gentry's characterization of such a context which speaks not of the deliverance of ethnic Israel, but rather her judgment. He also very unbelievably (and Gentry points out) admits that Matthew 23:36 is a direct reference to AD70, but that the same phrase "this generation," in Matthew 24:34 should not be taken in the same manner because Matthew 23:36 is historical and Matthew 24:34 is prophetic. What? They were both prophetic at the time they were spoken!
Gentry in his rebuttal pointed out many obfuscations by Ice that may easily go by unnoticed. He shows that although the topic is the Great Tribulation, Ice rarely touched that passage in his main argument (though he did do so in rebuttal much more extensively), and showed that Ice relies upon some Old Testament passages (namely Deut. 4 and 28) as a prophetic "roadmap" for Israel's future that are not even prophetic passages, but rather passages concerning covenantal warnings. He also demonstrated that Ice engages in multiple selective quotations from Darrell Bock and seemed to contradict himself several times on the chronology of Israel's regathering in relation to the Tribulation (is she regathered first or afterwards?).
I, however, was disappointed that Gentry did not bring up Ice's judicious use of Zechariah 12-14, a treatment of which has been neglected by preterists. The section dealing with the obfuscation of the time passages was very helpful.
All the criticisms noted above being valid, Ice did do a commendable job. He found some of the admitted difficulties, even chronological ones, in the preterist understanding of particularly Matthew 24. He ably brought in some Old Testament passages in the same way that preterists do in order to back up his contentions. Obviously, I am not convinced, but I do want to give credit and praise where it is do. I hope that this work will prompt preterists to give stronger answers to some of the areas of weakness exposed by Ice.
This may sound really odd to say, but I am glad that I did not know about this book when I went through the painful struggle from dispensational futurism to postmillennial preterism (try saying that ten times fast). Why? Thomas Ice provides a very capable-sounding defense of futurism, and does it with the air of a knowledgeable scholar. I am not suggesting he is not a knowledgeable scholar, I am just noting the mood that is projected on his answer. While Gentry certainly gives the impression of the same level of scholarship, he is admittedly in the minority, and the deck is stacked against him.
If I, as a committed futurist, came to this book, happy in my presuppositions and comfortable in my views, I would not even hear Gentry enough to examine my presuppositions. Why? Ice just seems so convinced, and obviously more educated than I, in my comfort I would just automatically side with him.
This may not be true for everyone, but it would definitely have been true for me. Old ideas and strong presuppositions die hard, and at least for me, it was only when I had to examine them for myself without a "champion" like Ice to do the examining in my stead, that I saw them for what they were: not Biblical.
On a final note, Ice was scheduled to debate Gary DeMar at Biola University on February 26, 2002. It is my understanding that tapes of this debate will be available. I am planning on obtaining them, and comparing that debate with the one contained in this book. Ice will not be able to make any hay out of an alleged change in topic beginning at Matthew 24:36 (though he did so poorly here anyway) because DeMar does not hold to such a thing.
-"Dee Dee Warren"
Ted Noel, I Want to be Left Behind
Buy This Book NowI have to admit, I like a defiant title, and I can't help but like this one. I also like a lot of what is inside (not all of it), and I think Noel's volume is worth a look.
Noel is a personal friend of mine, and we have had a few exchanges of ideas in the past on this subject; I was even permitted to view an early version of this book. As a preterist I found a good deal of the material helpful, notably the critiques of Futurist thought and asumptions. Despite our disagreements, Noel is, like myself, one who has taken considerable time to look into the sources, consult the scholars, and do the legwork. If you aren't convinced by me, the endorsement by the respected scholar Simon Kistemaker on the rear cover, should do the trick.
Though I do not agree with all of it, we recommend I Want to Be Left Behind for those with an interest in the subject of eschatology who wish to look beyond what populist futurists are offering.
C. Jonathin Seraiah, The End of All Things
Buy This Book NowAs I investigated preterist eschatology many years ago, I found the large body of work produced by the hyper-preterists (hereinafter pantelists). They argued that not only was the Great Tribulation completely fulfilled in 70AD, if one were to be CONSISTENT then ALL prophecy was fulfilled in 70AD, including the Final Advent of Christ, the resurrection, and the Final Judgment.
Well, ideas have consequences, and as I struggled with this idea, I went through the blackest moments in my Christian faith. I praise God for the Christian compassion of the author who spent a great deal of time with me on this issue many months before this book came out.
There are so very few works refuting pantelism (this being the only book-length treatment of the subject that I am aware of), and each that I have seen bases its argumentation heavily on the pantelists' departure from the historic Christian creeds. However, the pantelists play the "Sola Scriptura" card to their favor, and as R.C. Sproul, Jr. so aptly stated in his introduction to this book, when the pantelists are confronted with the creeds, they "just yawn and remind us that we ourselves confess that confessions can err." This book of 208 pages spends the last 10 pages on the creeds and their proper place, devoting the rest to a biblically based argument against pantelism.
The author develops an excellent case for the orthodox Christian belief in the future bodily resurrection of all believers and the future bodily resurrection of the damned. He points out multiple Scriptures that cannot be understood in any other light without exegetical (and contextual) gymnastics. In so doing, he engages many of the arguments of the pantelists. Also specifically addressed are the arguments of pantelists King, Harden, and Noe about the nature of the resurrection body.
Of course, intrinsically tied into this issue, would be the Final Judgment. If the pantelist is correct, then Satan and his angels have been completely judged. If the pantelist is correct, then physical death will always be present, and Christ will not have completely redeemed us and this world from the loss caused by the first Adam. The consequences of this idea do not leave one area of faith unaffected. (For example, if Christ has done all the "coming" that He is ever going to do, then do we still take Communion?)
Additionally, it is shown how a particularly thorny issue for the pantelist is the reign of Christ. If Revelation 20 and 1 Corinthians 15 are taken together, the pantelist would appear to have no choice but to reduce Christ's reign to 40 years. Pantelists and orthodox preterists alike point out that God can tell time and "soon means soon." However, the pantelists in a desire to be "consistent" can somehow make 1,000 years into 40. Who is being consistent here? While the number 1,000 may very well, and most likely is, symbolic; it certainly is not be symbolic of a short period of time (despite pantelist assertions). What would be the point? If that is so, we may have cause to worry because God keeps His promises to a thousand generations. If that can be forty, our time may be running out. (Of course, I am being facetious.) The author ironically points out that the pantelists have made the same error as they believe the dispensationalists have, only in reverse. While most of the church today seems to ignore the short term statements in Scripture to save the future, the pantelist sacrifices the future to save the short term statements.
Other issues dealt with include the implausibility that the church could be in such grave error for 2,000 years, ( especially if the pantelist is right since the promises in Ephesians 4:11-13 would have fulfilled as well) and the mixing of short-term and long-term prophecies in the OT. I particularly enjoyed the fact that this book sticks with and deals with the topic at hand without unnecessary digression and elementary discussion. As such, however, it is not a work for persons unfamiliar with the basics of the topic as it does not provide such groundwork, assuming the reader already has familiarity with same. Also, this book is not going to nor does it claim to, answer every argument that is currently put forward by the pantelists; but it lays a great foundation from which to answer those arguments.
-"Dee Dee Warren"
R. C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus
Buy This Book NowWith so many teacher like Grant Jeffrey and John Hagee spreading bad information about eschatology, this book by Sproul presents a convincing and useful case for preterist eschatology that initially won me over some years ago.
My only problem is that Sproul leaves far too much unsaid. We can not blame him for this, because this book is essentially programmatic in nature and thus can only serve as an introduction to a position that many of Sproul's evangelical readers will find strange.
But we may appreciate the effort even so. Read this book with an open mind and heart.
Ben Witherington, Jesus, Paul and the End of the World
Buy This Book NowIt's refreshing to be able to find a scholarly and sober analysis of the NT's end-time passages from the likes of a careful scholar like Ben Witherington. Witherington's most valuable contribution comes at the very beginning with his discussion of the NT writers' use of the 'language of Imminence'. What this means is that because the writers knew that Jesus was returning, but did not know for certain that He would do so within their lifetimes, they often spoke in a way that suggested that they thought that it was possible that they would be alive when Jesus returned. An understanding of this sort of language puts paid to various theories about how the Church behaved because they supposedly thought that the Parousia was right around the corner.
Our author is not afraid to take on even the toughest citations in his discussions. He clearly and convincingly deals with such thorny verses as Matthew 10:23 and Mark 13:30. Especially interesting is his analysis of the word parousia itself, in which he points out that the word was commonly used to describe a greeting committee that went to meet a visiting king upon his arrival just outside the city, then accompanied him back to town for the final leg of the journey. This parallel understood correctly carries significant implications for the context of the so-called Great Tribulation for dispensationalists, but fits quite well within a preterist eschatology.
We also found Witherington's section on the resurrection body extremely helpful.