The Saga of the Upcoming Covenant Radio Roundtable Discussion on Hyper (i.e. True) Preterism Featuring Kenneth Gentry and Ken Talbot
by Don K. Preston
It was announced recently by William Hill of Covenant Radio that he has confirmed a “Round Table Discussion” of Hyper-preterism, featuring Kenneth Gentry, Ken Talbot, and a “to be announced” third guest. The program is to air in September 16, 2009. Air times are on William’s Website, www.covenantradio.com.
When I was apprised of that upcoming program I immediately sent an email to William Hill suggesting that he sponsor a two hour debate between Kenneth Gentry and myself. Hill has sponsored several debates between me and both dispensationalists and postmillennialists, and has often commented both on-air and off, of the value and need for open discussion of controversial topics. Well, it now appears that not only has William Hill had a change of heart concerning true preterism, but, it appears he has had a change of mind about the value of Christian polemics as well.
William F. Hill has, after almost two weeks, refused to give the courtesy of a response to my email. Now, he did open it. Nonetheless, he refuses to even send me a respectful response.
Another thing, something very revealing, has likewise occurred. William has been “inundated” with emails from true preterists, requesting him to sponsor a debate with Gentry and myself. (Incidentally, I would be honored to debate Dr. Talbot. It does not have to be Gentry). Many of those posters forwarded their emails to me as well. William Hill’s response to the posters has been curt to say the least. Here is his response: “No debate will be scheduled or requested.”
Then, it appears that his agitation (not to mention desperation), increased as more and more emails came in requesting a debate. Here is what he began saying: “Nothing will be scheduled. It is obvious that all of the hyper-preterists have been told to contact me in an attempt to somehow force me to get this debate together. It will not be happening. If you want to get a debate together why don’t all of you organize one yourselves?” One can detect a good bit of fear, frustration and angst in this response. But, Mr. Hill is not through, for evidently the emails kept coming.
Some folks posted comments on Mr. Hill’s board asking for a debate to take place. Again, Mr. Hill’s frustration began to come through: “There will be no debate scheduled between Preston and Gentry so stop asking.” (http://blog.covenantradio.com/index.php/2009/06/06/roundtable-on-hyper-preterism-being-plan#c19).
Instead of giving a respectful, courteous response to what is clearly a lot of interest in a debate, Hill finds it necessary to be rude and discourteous. What is even more interesting about Hill’s curt response is that some of the posters on his site are adamant enemies of true preterism, but they too are asking for a roundtable discussion between R. C. Sproul, Gentry, and representative leaders from the true preterist movement. Yet, Hill is adamant. He wants nothing to do with such discussions. In fact, he seems to now believe that the preterist tactic of requesting a formal debate is unethical on the part of preterists! (http://blog.covenantradio.com/index.php/2009/07/04/eschatology-roundtables-responses).
Here is what William F. Hill posted on his site in response to the on-going requests for a debate: “It seems pretty obvious that someone within the hyperpreterist (sic) camp has been spearheading a campaign (of sorts) to somehow inundate my inbox with numerous requests for Don Preston to be a part of the roundtable and/or requesting me to schedule a debate between Don Preston and Dr. Ken Gentry. Let me make this very simple for all of you who would stoop to these kinds of tactics: I will not be scheduling a debate and I will not be asking Don Preston on to the program. If you are going to email me and request this then save yourself the trouble and do not bother.”
I personally find this response more than a little revealing, and sad. Why? Well for many reasons, but, take note of a few things.
William F. Hill is from the Reformed tradition. What is the significance of this? Well, formal debate is the foundation and source of the Reformed Movement! Luther challenged the pope to formal debate! Had the pope taken Mr. Hill’s current position, he would have responded that, “No such debate will take place, so save yourself the trouble Mr. Luther, and do not bother challenging me again!” Perhaps he would have castigated brother Luther and his followers for “stooping” to such a level as to challenge him to a debate. Now, to be sure, the pope would have been far better off for himself had he done that, for he had much to lose– and he did lose it! I think one can see the parallels at work here, if I may say so.
I have personally appeared on Covenant Radio several times as a guest, to discuss eschatology and to formally debate both dispensational and postmillennial opponents. For instance, I debated postmillennialists Greg Strawbridge and Brian Schwertley on Covenant Radio, and those debates are available from me. William Hill commented both on the air and off of the need for, and benefit for formal debate. He even commented on his wish to see a debate between Dr. Gentry and myself! (Several posters to me have commented on this). Now, however, when it is very clear that there would be tremendous interest, not to mention benefit, in hosting a formal debate on what is clearly a hot topic, Mr. Hill is adamant that he wants nothing to do with sponsoring a debate. Does Mr. Hill no longer believe in debate? I doubt that is the case. What seems very clearly to be the case is that he no longer thinks that sponsoring a debate with Gentry and myself would be “profitable.”
Mr. Hill suggests that if preterists are so interested in seeing a debate, that we should sponsor one ourselves. We would gladly do so. However Mr. Hill is acutely aware that the true preterist community has repeatedly challenged Gentry, Mathison and others to debate me, all to no avail.
Very clearly, Gentry wants nothing to do with a high level debate with a true preterist. (I will be writing an article shortly examining Gentry’s “reasons” for not debating a true preterist. You will find his “reasons” to be shocking and illogical, but very revealing. In fact, one word comes to mind when one reads Gentry’s explanation for his refusal to enter the fray: desperation). Nevertheless, since Mr. Hill is now so adamantly opposed to hosting honorable debate, here is what is being planned. Approximately a month after Mr. Hill’s “roundtable discussion on hyperpreterism” there will be a similar true preterist roundtable discussion.
William Bell of Memphis, Tennessee also has an Internet radio program. So, on a yet to be determined date, William Bell, Jack Scott and Don K. Preston will discuss the issues raised on Covenant Radio by Gentry, Talbot and the mystery guest. Here is how you can participate and make this an extra special program.
Be sure to listen to Hill’s roundtable discussion. Listen carefully to the key arguments against true preterism by Gentry, Talbot and the other guest (s). Take good notes. After the program is over, make a list of what you consider the “best arguments” that these men make. Send your list to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bell, Scott and myself fully intend to be listening to Hill’s program, and taking our own notes. I am sure we will l
ikewise have some notes from Gentry’s latest revised version of He Shall Have Dominion, to add to the discussion. (Incidentally, at the upcoming 2009 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, in Ardmore, Ok., I will be presenting a special video critique of Gentry’s new Dominion book. I can promise you that this will be a very powerful, revealing lesson exposing Gentry’s hermeneutical fallacies, his theological inconsistencies, and his movement ever closer to the true preterist position! This lesson alone will be worth attending this conference! That critique will be available asap after the seminar. We will be making it available on this website.)
So, be sure to listen in to William F. Hill’s “roundtable discussion of Hyper-Preterism” in September. Then, send us your questions, and be listening as William Bell, Jack Scott and Don K. Preston provide Biblical responses to their arguments.