We often encounter comments and writings by futurists that, when applied consistently, those comments lead inexorably to the full preterist view of eschatology. This is extremely common, especially when one reads the writings of the popular postmillennialists (Dominionists) of the day. Whether one reads Gentry, Mathison, Sandlin, Leithart, McDurmon or DeMar, you will find such comments. I personally hear from people on a frequent basis who tell me that it is the writings of these men, and the hermeneutic that they espouse, that has led them to become advocates of Covenant Eschatology. Of course, the authors cited above object to such comments, but the facts are undeniable. Let me give an example of these comments from one of the leading Dominionists of the day, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, Gary DeMar.
Commenting on Revelation 3:10 DeMar says: “Revelation 3:10 says ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.’ This passage was written nearly two thousand years ago. The ‘hour of testing’ was ‘about to come upon the whole earth [Greek, oikoumene: the inhabited earth]. This means not long after the time it was spoken. That hour of testing was the conflagration leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the tribulation period from which Christians were warned to ‘flee,’ which they did” (Matthew 24:16). (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, Powder Springs, GA, American Vision, 1994)229, n. 18).
Note how DeMar emphasizes audience relevance, time statements, and wider contextual application (analogia scriptura) to properly place the text in its historical context. This is clearly an appropriate hermeneutic. Notice how DeMar applies that same hermeneutic in another text that the huge majority of his Dominionist brethren would absolutely vehemently disagree with his application.
“The New American Standard translation does not catch the full meaning of this passage. Following Robert Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, we read, ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us.’ Whatever the glory is, it was ‘about to be revealed’ (see Revelation 2:10; 3:2, 10; 10:4; 12:4; 17:8). Peter tells his readers that the ‘Spirit of glory and of Christ rests on you’ (1 Peter 4:14). This was a present condition, not something that the people in Peter’s day would have to wait for a future rapture.” (Madness, 1994, 191).
Notice that DeMar applies the same hermeneutic to Romans 8 that he does to Revelation 3, and comes to the same conclusion. Both texts apply to the first century and the events leading up to and consummating in AD 70.
To say that DeMar’s postmillennial brethren would object to DeMar’s application is a huge understatement! Gentry, Mathison, Sandlin, etc. all apply Romans 8:18f to the “end of human history as we know it.” In fact, Romans 8:18f is considered one of the foundational texts for an end of history eschatology. It is not too much to say that if one abandons Romans 8 as predictive of a future event, they have in fact abandoned futurism!
There is absolutely no contextual justification to suggest that the “glory about to be revealed” (which DeMar says was imminent) was something different from the “manifestation of the sons of God”, from the revealing of the “glorious liberty of the sons of God”, from the “adoption, the redemption of the body.” All of these tenets / elements are synchronous, and were in fact expressions of “the glory about to be revealed.” So, for DeMar to posit fulfillment of “the glory about to be revealed” as imminent demands the imminent fulfillment of the entirety of Romans 8:18-23!
And what this means is that there are no texts that predict a future, greater “glory to be revealed.” Scholarship is united in seeing Romans 8 as parallel to Acts 3:19f and the prediction of the “restoration of all things.” It is the time of the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 / 1 Thessalonians 4. It is the end of the millennium resurrection of Revelation 20!
Do you see then, how fatal DeMar’s own (excellent) hermeneutic truly is? If he, and his Dominionist brethren are consistent with what they teach– but of course, so far, they are not consistent with it– then they must abandon any futurist eschatology. There is simply no way to logically, contextually justify a claim that on the hand Romans 8 was to be fulfilled shortly, and yet, attempt to justify a futurist eschatology. If Romans 8 was fulfilled shortly, in the first century, then the other parallel texts likewise foretold the imminent consummation. And of course, this is true.
Notice how DeMar rightly translates the Greek word “mello” as “about to be” in both Romans 8 and Revelation 3. What he conveniently omitted was that Paul, in Acts 17:30f and 24:14f spoke of how Christ was “about to judge the world” and that there was “about to be a resurrection of the just and unjust.”
So, DeMar correctly translates mello as about to be, and insists that in Romans 8 and Revelation 3 when the word is used, it demands the imminent fulfillment. And yet, that same word is used by Paul to speak of the judgment of the world and the resurrection!
Note that in Revelation 3, DeMar correctly observes the definition of the word “world” (oikoumene) as the “inhabited world”- not the globe.
Again, DeMar fails to inform his readers that this identical word is used in Acts 17:31! So, watch this: In Revelation 3:10, oikoumene speaks of a first century judgment because of the temporal delimitation demanded by mello. Yet, in Acts 17:30-31 we find the identical combination of oikoumene and mello! (Interestingly, DeMar hints that he may apply Acts 17 to the first century, by noting that “the times of ignorance” allowed by YHVH had come to an end in the first century (Madness, 1994, 109). This suggestion demands therefore, a first century fulfillment. If God’s gracious allowance and patience had run out, then judgment was, of necessity, about to fall, just as the Greek text demands.
So, what we see in the writings of some of the leading Dominionists of the day is a hermeneutic that clearly, irrefutably and undeniably leads to Covenant Eschatology. The consistency of the hermeneutic set forth by DeMar demands this conclusion. There is no escape.
Of course, one might take– as many do- the view of McDurmon and other Dominionists who claim that there was a fulfillment of some of these texts in AD 70, as demanded by the temporal imminence of the passages. Yet, they tell us that the AD 70 fulfillment was a mere foreshadowing of the real “final” fulfillment of the prophecies. This was Joel McDurmon’s claim in our July 2012 public debate, in which he made the astounding claim (unprecedented in church history or the creeds) that there was a fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15, but that we are still looking for the final, full fulfillment!
In my new book, AD 70: A Shadow of the (Real) End? I completely dispel and refute this totally desperate and novel claim. Be sure to get a copy of that book and see for yourself how ill grounded and untenable this claim truly is.
We are all mere humans, subject to error and self-contradiction. We should strive, however, to be as consistent as we can possibly be. As demonstrated in this brief article, our friends in the Dominionist world have a great need to be more consistent in their hermeneutical approach. Of course, should they choose to do so, they will have to abandon their futurism, and unfortunately, some (but not all) of them are so bound by church history and creedalism, that they will refuse t
o change. On the other hand, almost daily, we hear from those who are seeing for themselves that the consistent application of the hermeneutic set forth in these men’s writings does indeed lead to the truth of Covenant Eschatology.