Preterist Pilgrim Weekend: Reflections
“Wonderful!” “Fantastic!” “Insightful and Interesting!” “Excellent speakers, good information, wonderful fellowship.” These are just some of the many kind comments made by those who attended and participated in the 2009 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, sponsored by the Preterist Research Institute recently in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
The theme chosen for the seminar this year was, “The Resurrection and the Millennium”–considered by most Bible scholars to be two of the most exciting and challenging subjects in all of the Bible. The speakers were in absolute agreement that, President Obama is not the foretold Antichrist, the restoration of the nation of Israel in 1948 has zero prophetic significance, the “Great Tribulation” and the Rapture are not imminent, the United States is nowhere found anywhere in Bible prophecy, and that there will be no literal 1,000 reign of Christ on planet earth!
Instead of the typical “Premillennial” fantasy show of ‘smoke and mirrors,’ those who attended this seminar were blessed with a virtual feast of “exegetical” treats from the Word of God, all proving that God kept His promises to first-century believers who lived in the very shadow of fulfillment within their own “generation” (Matt. 24:36). Noticeably absent also, were the inconsistent ramblings of so-called “partial” Preterists with their “almost” but “not quite” version of fulfillment that has some of the facts, but most of the fiction associated with other forms of Futurism.
The Thursday evening meeting began with a powerful message delivered by Jack C. Scott, of the Ardmore Family of God, on “Resurrection from the Ground Up.” With an extensive list of Old and New Testament Scriptures, he proved conclusively that the message delivered by the apostle Paul about the resurrection of the dead was nothing other than what had been promised in the Old Testament by the prophets and that the “hope of Israel” was tied inseparably to what had already been revealed. Don K. Preston followed with an awesome presentation on the context of I Thessalonians 4:13 and the substance of Paul’s message and the expectation of believers in that day. Preston also demonstrated that commentators like Dr. Kenneth Gentry often admit that the Olivet Discourse, which they admit is referent to the A.D. 70 parousia of Christ, is the source of Thessalonians. Yet they fail to see the incredible implications of this connection.
Friday was a full day of exciting messages that included William Bell doing a survey of the book of Ephesians and elements common with what was seen in prophetic vision by the apostle John in the book of Revelation Bell was followed by a thought-provoking speech by first-time seminar speaker Jerel Kratt on the relationship between “flesh and spirit” and the transformation that took place during the millennium. Larry Siegle showed the relationship between “this age” and the “age to come” as one pertaining to “promise” and “fulfillment” as predicted by Jesus and His apostles.
The afternoon continued with a continuation of the discussion by Jack Scott on “Resurrection from the Ground Up” and other messages that proved the prophecies found in the Old Testament had to have been fulfilled in the events of the first century. Don K. Preston provided a detailed critique of the latest (2009), “revision” of a book that had been written by Dr. Kenneth Gentry in 1992, He Shall Have Dominion, and demonstrated many of the theological ‘gymnastics’ employed by Gentry in an effort to distance himself from logical arguments that would lead to the complete fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This material is destined to become an “instant classic” in the field of Biblical exegesis and in furthering the message of Covenant Eschatology. The evening included a “question and answer” period in which all of the speakers took turns in addressing various questions that had been submitted by those in attendance. All of the audio (and video coming soon), presentations are available from www.eschatology.org for purchase. Among the featured “new speakers” added to the program was Bryan Lewis, who presented an awesome message relating the connection between the apostle Paul’s use of the “seed analogy” in I Corinthians 15 with the Old Testament prophecy found in the book of Hosea. The material presented will soon become a classic for use in full preterist Bible studies on the resurrection.
Perhaps the “capstone” to the entire gathering was the ‘Atom Bomb’ dropped by Don K. Preston. He shared material from his upcoming book on I Thessalonions 4 in which he proved that the removal of the church from the earth is a false doctrine! His points were concise, logical and powerful, and everyone listening went away amazed that many of these points had never been made before!
One of the desires expressed by Preston and each of the speakers involved in this annual project is that it be “the best” possible Full Preterist seminar and that people would look forward to attending this conference because of the quality of its organization and presentation. While Ardmore, Oklah
oma may seem somewhat “off the beaten” path it is actually located between Oklahoma City and Dallas and travel from either destination is relatively simple. In addition, the seminar occurs at the Ardmore Convention Center, with convenient lodging nearby, excellent restaurants with good service complete with Oklahoma hospitality. Friendly members of local congregations are on hand each year to assist with planning, preparation and registration.
The “buzz” of the seminar was, no doubt, the release and arrival of copies of the “Reformed Response” to When Shall These Things Be? A book several years earlier attempting to refute Hyper-Preterism. Copies of House Divided, written by a number of qualified “true” Preterists were available at the seminar and people were observed purchasing the book for their friends, neighbors and others who were interested in learning more about fulfilled Bible prophecy. Supplies of the book were quickly depleted much to the dismay of those scrambling to get their copy “hot off the presses.” Additional copies of House Divided are now available from Don K. Preston, at www.bibleprophecy.com. In addition, many knowledgeable “true” Preterists were in the audience, including Samuel Dawson of Gospel Themes, J.L. Vaughn of Beyond Creation Science and many others who are contributed to the conversation in recent years through writing, preaching and teaching.
Two decades ago, during the Warren, Ohio seminar days, there was always a very small “book table” that included a few tracts, periodicals, and maybe one or two books. It is encouraging now to see the ‘explosion’ of books, magazines, tracts, pamphlets, audio and video presentations that have now become a regular part of the “true” Preterist arsenal for serious students of the Word of God. The colorful array of books written by Don K. Preston, Sam Frost, Samuel Dawson, William Bell, Kurt Simmons and a host of others were all available for those attending the seminar. What a blessing to see how God has blessed the movement with talented authors and speakers all gathered together in one place, with one message!
Enthusiastic and encouraging comments soon began pouring into the Inbox of Don K. Preston, President of the Preterist Research Institute expressing their appreciation for the excellent presentations and excitement about upcoming programs. One attendee wrote: “I just wanted to thank you, Jan and all the others who helped with the putting the conference together, for a wonderful, wonderful time of fellowship and learning!! I talked to so many fascinating people and really hated to leave, but it just makes me all the more anxious to get back next year. The speakers were great as usual and I was tremendously pleased with the new guys. They both are obviously very capable speakers…” Another wrote: “wanted to express how much we enjoyed and profited from the teaching and are so thankful for your efforts advancing God’s kingdom. I believe you are the tip of the spear in the battle for the truth of fulfilled eschatology…. We view preterism as more than merely a “system of eschatology,” but a comprehensive hermeneutical method of interpreting the entire Bible which carries far-reaching implications for how we view the world, politics, and life in general…” One person expressed disappointment for not being able to attend, but is already planning to make arrangements for next year, “Heard your conference was wonderful (yet again). Sure wish I could have been there. Would you please let me know as soon as you have the mp3’s available? Thank you. Oh ya, and your new book on 1Thess.4 too!”
The Preterist Research Institute has already been flooded with requests for conference audio and video orders. The MP3 audios are now available for $24.95, plus $4.50 postage. You can send a check or MO to JaDon Management Inc. 1405 4th Ave. N.W. #109, Ardmore, Ok. 73401. You can also send the funds via PayPal using the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to designate what you are ordering. The DVDs will be available as soon as possible.
In retrospect, these meetings, although requiring a great deal of planning, preparation and sacrifice on the part of everyone, speakers and those who invest their own time and resources to attend is certainly more than worth it! We will see you there in 2010. At this point there has been no “official” announcement about what the topic will be, but all of us can be assured that whatever theme is chosen will be a blessing to one and all.