A Few (Final) Thoughts in Response to Robert L Kramer– #6
Don K. Preston
This is the sixth and final in a series or articles in response to Mr. Robert Kramer. (Actually, I had mis-counted and thought there were seven objections. My math is really bad! 🙂 )
Kramer produces the “Second Thoughts” journal (42 Evans Ave. Sinking Spring, Pa., 19608). Mr. Kramer and I have corresponded in the past, since he sometimes expresses his views against Covenant Eschatology. Kramer seems to be a genuinely good man who loves the Lord, and I have always appreciated his demeanor in our correspondence.
Just recently, a friend sent me some correspondence from Mr. Kramer in which he challenged several tenets of Covenant Eschatology. My friend asked if I would be willing to respond to some of the issues that Kramer raised , and I am happy to do so.
Mr. Kramer’s Final Objection
: “1 John 2:18 doesn’t say that the anti-christ had come in the first century–rather many anti-christ’s which John describes in 4:3 as the spiritual anti-christ. This still allows for the coming of the anti-christ which they had heard is to come.”
: Once again, Mr. Kramer has imposed his theology onto the text and winds up denying what the apostle wrote.
Note carefully what John wrote: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”
Now, note the contrast between Mr. Kramer’s position, and what John says. John says, “as you have heard that anti-christ should come, even now there are many anti-christ’s”; Mr. Kramer says that this still “allows for the coming of an antichrist which they had heard is to come.” But wait, John said that what was happening right then was what had been predicted!
John says not one word about another anti-christ coming. He says not one word about them having heard of the coming of many antichrists (plural) in their generation, and then, the coming of another antichrist (singular) two thousand years (and counting) later!
John is emphatic: what they had heard was to happen was happening right then! Of this there can be no dispute, and no denial.
Furthermore, note that John is not only emphatic that the afore-predicted (is that a word?), was being fulfilled, he says that because of the then present fulfillment of those previous prophecies, it demonstrated that “it is the last hour!” Notice again the language: You have heard that antichrists would come. Antichrists are here, and thereby (by the presence of the antichrists), you know that “it is the last hour!” The presence of those antichrists was proof to John that the last hour was present!
Mr. Kramer cannot have this to be true! The presence of the antichrist was to be a sign of the imminent, soon coming parousia (2 Thessalonians 2:2f). The presence of antichrists was not to prove that the Christian age had arrived! There is not one scripture that Mr. Kramer can appeal to for a prediction that many antichrists would come in the first century, whose presence would prove that the Christian age had arrived! Nor is there a single previous prophecy that Mr. Kramer can produce that foretold the imminent coming of antichrists and then thousands of years later, the “real” antichrist would come.
And of course, one has the right to wonder why and how the presence of antichrists would prove that the Christian age had arrived. Would not the appearing of Christ, the work of the apostles, the establishment of the church not prove that the Christian age had arrived? Are we to believe that the way the early Christians were to know that the final age had arrived is because of the presence of those who denied it?? This stretches the limits of credulity.
John is more than clear: the presence of those antichrists was proof positive that “the last hour” had arrived. Significantly, for John, the term “last hour” and last time, etc. is an indisputable eschatological reference, and specifically to the time of the resurrection. The last day is for John the time of the resurrection (John 6:44), and the eschatological “hour” is the time when those in the graves would come forth (John 5:28-29), in fulfillment of Israel’s hope (Ezekiel 37). Simply stated, there are not two “last hours” in John’s eschatology, and he is emphatic that the prophesied last hour had arrived!
Notice the dilemma that Mr. Kramer’s claims creates in light of Luke 21:8. Jesus said that many false christs (hmmm, antichrists??), would come saying: “The end has drawn nigh, do not go after them.”
So, Jesus said that men would come falsely declaring the imminence of the end. Jesus warned his disciples, and remember that John, who wrote the text we are examining, was present and heard Jesus’ warnings. John heard Jesus warn against prematurely saying that the end had drawn near!
However, note that Jesus also gave the disciples a list of signs to know when the end was truly near, and said, “When you see all of these things come to pass, then know that it is nigh, even at the door” (Matthew 24:32).
So, the disciples were to reject premature declarations of the nearness of the end– made by false christs– but, by seeing the signs of the end, they could know– in truth– that the end was objectively near. (See my fuller discussion of Luke 21:8 in my Can God Tell Time, available from this website).
The question is: Was John a false prophet, prematurely declaring that the end had drawn near? Did he become one of the false prophets, wrongly pontificating about the nearness of the Day of the Lord? If the last hour– the time of the resurrection– was not truly near then John most assuredly was one of the very false prophets that Jesus warned about! There is no escaping this dilemma, and yet, it is the precisely the problem created by Mr. Kramer’s denial that the consummation truly was near.
John patently was not saying that the beginning of the Christian age had arrived. He was saying that the end, the last hour, had arrived! What had been predicted was being fulfilled. Language could hardly be clearer. In fact, we would ask our question again: If the Spirit desired to communicate the objective, genuine nearness of the end, how better could He have expressed that imminence than He did? How much clearer could John have expressed the true nearness of the consummation than “It is the last hour!”? Only by denying or manipulating language can we mitigate John’s statements.
Mr. Kramer’s denial of the eschatological nature and true imminence of the end in 1 John 2:18 is lamentably typical of those who refuse to submit to the inspired time statements of the nearness of the end in the first century. The last hour truly was near in the first century, or else John was a liar, he was delud
ed, or he was a false prophet. If he was none of these, then the end was truly near.
We have examined each of Mr. Kramer’s objections and demonstrated that he is guilty of presuppositional hermeneutics that imposes on the inspired text concepts that are simply not there. He openly denies the imminence of the Biblical language and creates definitions that are simply untenable. While we believe that Mr. Kramer is a fine man, we find his objections to be without merit.