Kenneth Gentry V Kenneth Gentry
A Classic Case of Self-Entrapment
Kenneth Gentry is a man that I respect a great deal. He is an excellent writer and his work on the dating of Revelation is, in my estimation, the best work available on the early dating of Revelation. Of course, Gentry is a futurist, of the Postmillennial view. He has also written the best modern day apology for that eschatological perspective that is available.
Gentry is also an outspoken critic of Covenant Eschatology, i.e. the full (true) preterist view. The trouble for Gentry is that his attempt to refute CE (Covenant Eschatology) demonstrate the intrinsic falsity of his Postmillennialism and futurism as a whole. I would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate that claim in formal public debate, but, Gentry has adamantly and persistently rejected numerous invitations to debate me. But, that invitation stands open.
While there is an incredible amount of material that can prove Gentry’s self-contradiction, this short article will focus on Romans 11:25f contrasted with Gentry’s view of Revelation. The reality is that Gentry has destroyed his personal eschatology from his own key-board.
Gentry on Romans 11:25f – The Salvation of “All Israel”
Dr. Gentry espouses the classic Postmillennial view of Romans 11:25f on the doctrine of the salvation of “all Israel”: “Postmillennialists sees here the promise of world conversion as finally including Israel herself.”…. “We must understand that since Israel’s loss is almost total (only a remnant remains, 11:5), her ‘fulfillment’ (Gk, pleroma) must be commensurate with her loss, which means it must be virtually total. Hence, postmillennialists believe in future, massive conversions among the Jews, not only due to general systematic requirements of world salvation, but also due to this exegetical evidence.” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA., Apologetics Group, 2009)254. (A growing number of Postmillennialists now believe Romans 11 was fulfilled in AD 70. See Gary DeMar’s comments here: http://www.preteristsite.com/docs/demarisrael.html).
Per Gentry, the salvation of “all Israel” will come at the Second Coming of Christ, at the end of human history, the end of the Christian age. (This is the classic postmillennial view. Cf. Keith Mathison, in Age To Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology, Phillipsburg, NJ, P & R Publishing, 2009)582.
Okay, so, per Gentry, Romans 11:25-27 will be fulfilled in the future, at the end of human history and at the second coming of Christ. But, let’s turn now to other of Gentry’s writings in which he seeks to respond to the true preterist view of Luke 21:22.
Gentry has felt the pressure and power of Luke 21:22, where Jesus, speaking of the coming judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70, said, “these be the days of vengeance when all things that are written must be fulfilled.” Preterists continually appeal to this text and so, Gentry wrote an article in which he claimed that the preterist appeal to Jesus’ words is totally misguided and wrong. As proof of this claim, he offered this:
“The grammar of the passage (Luke 21, DKP) limits the declaration. Jesus speaks of ‘all things which are written’ by employing a perfect passive participle: ‘gegrammena’ (‘having been written’). This refers to prophecies already written – when he speaks in AD 30. Yet we know that more prophecies arise later in the New Testament revelation. Once again we see a limitation on Jesus’ statement. Furthermore, technically it does not even refer to any prophecy which Christ speaks. For these are not prophecies that have already been written. That being the case, the final resurrection (for instance) is outside of this declaration (Jn 5:28-29). Thus, Jesus is referring to all things written in the Old Testament. At this stage of redemptive history those are the only prophecies that had already been written.” (Gentry’s comments can be found in his book, He Shall Have Dominion, (2009, 542f).
I must confess that I could hardly believe what I was reading from Dr. Gentry.
Gentry on the Fulfillment of All Things That Are Written
Here are a few thoughts taken from a book that I am currently finishing. It is a book on Daniel 12 and the question of whether Daniel foretold the general resurrection or a limited, typological resurrection. Lord willing, that book will be published next year. Here are a few edited excerpts in response to what Gentry wrote.
You cannot say that all Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled at the AD 70 parousia of Christ without admitting to the AD 70 fulfillment of Romans 11. Romans 11 predicted the salvation of “all Israel” in fulfillment of three Old Testament prophecies (specifically three, but, others also). Those specific OT prophecies are, as admitted by virtually all scholars, Isaiah 27:10f; Isaiah 59:20f and Jeremiah 31:31f. I do not feel it necessary to document that; it is admitted by virtually all commentators. It is beyond dispute.
With this in mind, consider what this does for Dr. Gentry:
All Old Testament prophecy would be fulfilled by the time of and in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Kenneth Gentry).
But, the Old Testament predicted the salvation of “all Israel” (Isaiah 27; 59; Jeremiah 31 being the specific source of Paul’s expectation of the salvation of Israel).
Therefore, the salvation of “all Israel” was fulfilled no later than the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
This point alone destroys Gentry’s attempt at refuting Covenant Eschatology, and needless to say, destroys his futurist, Postmillennial eschatology.
Notice carefully that Gentry makes no qualifying comment. He says “Thus, Jesus is referring to all things written in the Old Testament. At this stage of redemptive history those are the only prophecies that had already been written.” (My emphasis, DKP).
Consider then the following argument in light of the question of eschatology as a whole:
All things written in the Old Testament, i.e. all Old Testament prophecy, was fulfilled by the time of and in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. (Kenneth Gentry).
But, the Old Testament prophesied the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:14f; 26:6f; 26:21f, Romans 8:23-9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 15:55-56).
Therefore, the prophecies of the resurrection of the dead were fulfilled by the time of, and in the events of, the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Notice the fuller argument in bullet points:
✮Gentry posits the future salvation of all Israel in fulfillment of Romans 11.
✮Romans 11 posits the salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord.
✮The coming of the Lord of Romans 11 is the second coming of Christ – Gentry.
✮Romans 11 posits the salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord in fulfillment of OT prophecies (Isaiah 27 / 59 / Jeremiah 31).
✮ But, all OT prophecies were fulfilled no later than AD 70 – Gentry.
✮Therefore, the salvation of Israel at the second coming of Christ, was fulfilled no later than AD 70.
This argument is prima facie, indisputably true.
It is incontrovertibly true that the Old Testament foretold the salvation of Israel, the resurrection of the dead and the second coming of Christ. Gentry agrees. For instance, he appeals (at least he has in the past) to Isaiah 26 as a prediction of the final resurrection (Dominion, 1992 edition, 283, 284). In that same place, however, he also appealed to Daniel 12 as a prediction of the final resurrection, but he has since rejected that view. He now accepts the full preterist position that Daniel 12 foretold the resurrection of the corporate body of Israel as the body of Christ in AD 70. So, while he cited Isaiah 26 as an OT source for a literal resurrection of decomposed bodies I am uncertain if he still does, since he does not cite the text in his 2009 Dominion work.
It is irrefutably true that Romans 11, the prediction of the salvation of all Israel, and that all New Testament prophecies of the resurrection and parousia are drawn from and are the reiteration of the Old Testament prophecies.
It is undeniable that Jesus said that all things written would be fulfilled by the time of, and in the events of, the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Gentry is correct in affirming that all Old Testament prophecies would be fulfilled at / in AD 70. And this proves, beyond refutation, that the salvation of all Israel in Romans 11, the resurrection of the dead and second coming of Christ came at the dissolution of the Old Covenant age of Israel in AD 70.
So, since Jesus in Luke 21:22 was referring to the fulfillment of all OT prophecies, he was in effect referring to the fulfillment of all NT prophecy. There are no “new” eschatological prophecies in the New Testament.
It should be more than evident that Dr. Gentry has completely falsified his own view of Romans 11. His argument on Luke 21:22 – being true as it is – demands that the salvation of Israel, the coming of Christ and the resurrection was fulfilled in AD 70.
If Gentry is right in his comments on Luke 21:22 – and he is – he thereby (logically) becomes a full preterist.
I strongly suspect that this article will be ignored, or, that at some juncture, Dr. Gentry will come up with another, different view and argument on Romans 11 and / or Luke 21:22.
Or, perhaps Gentry will even abandon the classic Postmillennial view, and adopt yet another non-creedal view of Romans 11. Will he accept the view of Seriah, who claims that Romans 11:25f was fulfilled at the cross? (Jonathan Seriah, The End of All Things, A Defense of Futurism, Moscow, Idaho, Canon Press, 1999)108-109. This is easily refuted.
Perhaps he will now accept the true preterist view of Romans 11, as DeMar has done, seeing the fulfillment occurring in AD 70. (http://www.preteristsite.com/docs/demarisrael.html).
Gentry may possibly resort to arguing that Romans 11 had a typological fulfillment in AD 70. This would raise all sorts of additional thorny issues for him, and will not work. See my book, AD 70: A Shadow of the “Real” End? for a thorough discussion and refutation of the claim that AD 70 was typological of another future coming of Christ.
This would be a radical change – not to mention non-creedal – but, as we noted above, he has been willing in the past to change his views (e.g. Daniel 12) and accept a non-creedal view – an admirable trait. (Of course, the irony of this is that Gentry has often strongly condemned preterists because we are not “creedal.” Yet, he increasingly takes non-creedal positions on key eschatological passages).
It will be interesting to watch and see what happens with Ken Gentry in regard to Romans 11 – and perhaps even Luke 21:22.