February 26, 2002 I debated Gary DeMar on preterism verses futurism at BIOLA
University in California. Post debate banter continues to
reverberate. Demonstrating that he has learned nothing from the exchange,
DeMar wrote an article entitled " On Thin Ice," which appears on his website.
that the burden of proof for my taking " this generation" differently than he
does is on me. This is what I demonstrated in the article that DeMar is
responding to. DeMar- as he did in our recent
debate- ignores interaction with the details of my substantial argumentation and
primarily just repeats " this generation," as if in a catatonic state. DeMar,
held captive by his a priori
allegiance to the preterist system, appeals to D. A. Carson who I had quoted.
Because I had quoted Carson in one book, DeMar goes to another book and
suggests that I should believe what Carson says there. If I don' t, then DeMar
portrays me as somehow inconsistent. Yet, if DeMar were held to the same
standard, I could produce many instances where he favorably quotes someone he
agrees with, but would not agree with them in other instances.
DeMar' s logic, it would mean that he should agree with all that the quoted
individual espouses. For example, DeMar favorably quotes full-preterist J.
Stuart Russell in his book Last Days Madness. Based upon DeMar' s standard, this
would mean that he must also adhere to full preterism, since Russell held that
position. Either DeMar is inconsistent when he quotes favorably Russell or he
must believe, like Russell, in no future second coming and no future bodily
quotes Carson' s commentary on Matthew as supporting his view of " this
generation," in Matthew 24:34, as if this somehow upstages me. It is true that
Carson favors DeMar' s view of " this generation" in the debate passage.
However, Carson does favor my understanding that Matthew 24:27-31 refers to a
future event- Christ' s second coming. Carson says,
Here are references to the
Son of Man' s coming angels gathering the elect, trumpet call, clouds, glory,
tribes of the earth mourning, celestial disturbances- all unambiguously related
to the Second Advent. It seems very doubtful, to say the least, that the
natural way to understand vv. 29- 35 is a reference to the Fall of Jerusalem. .
Daniel 7 portrays something
glorious and wonderful, the end of the pagan emperor' s reign; but a.d. 70 marks success by the pagan
is one of the points that I have consistently made with DeMar, that Matthew
24:27- 31 did not happen in a.d.
70. Therefore, " all these things" of verse 34 were not fulfilled in the first
century. In the debate and in my article, I provided an extensive
discussion of why " this generation" in verse 24 must be future. Part of the
reason why is that " all these things" were not fulfilled by the first century
Roman invaders. I have given an interpretation of Matthew 24 that provides a
consistent understanding of the details of verses 4- 34. Yet DeMar, blinded by
his preterist bias, finds only what his system will allow him to see. We have
in Carson, one who agrees with DeMar' s view of " this generation," yet, unlike
DeMar, is honest enough to admit that the language of verses 27- 31 must
reference a future second advent.
Who Is " You" ?
is less than honest when he says, " Ice never deals with the second person
plural or my extended argument and how it relates to ' this generation.' " This
is just not true! I dealt with this in our BIOLA debate (check out the
recording). I noted that the Deuteronomy 4 and 30 use the second person plural
" you" to refer to the Jewish nation since it would have been impossible for the
events spoken to " you" people in 1400 b.c.
to have occurred in a single generation. Instead those events have occurred
throughout the thousands of years of Jewish history and some are still future
to our time.
in the debate, I brought up Matthew 23:35 which speaks of " from the blood of
righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar." I
noted that the second person plural " you" in this passage could not refer to
Christ' s contemporaries. I believe, as in many biblical prophetic sections in
other parts of Scripture that are directed to Israel, the second person plural
" you" refers to the Jewish nation in Matthew 22- 24.
cites what he believes to be a few first century fulfillments of wars and
rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines and tribulations. The problem with citing
just those items is that there is never a generation when these things could
not be said to be true. They don' t prove a first-century fulfillment. At best, they only make a
first-century fulfillment possible.
thing that DeMar did not cite in his article from Matthew 24:5 is Jesus'
reference to false Christs. The emphasis in verse 5 is upon " many." Not just
a single person will come claiming to be the Messiah, but a whole host of
individuals will make such claims. Multiple claims to Messiahship is one of
the reasons why this passage is not referring to events leading up to the a.d. 70 destruction of Jerusalem as
DeMar dogmatically supposes. A. H. M' Neile says, " No such definite claim to
Messiahship is known till that of Barkokba in the reign of Hadrian." 
The Barkokba revolt was put down by the Romans in a.d. 135 when Hadrian lead the Roman legions to once again
destroy Jerusalem, and the surrounding area, which resulted in the death of
half a million Jews. Robert Gundry notes the following:
The lack of evidence that
anyone claimed messiahship between Jesus and Bar-Kokhba a hundred years later
militates against our seeing the discourse as a vaticinium ex eventu [a prophecy of an event] concerning the first
Jewish revolt (a.d. 66- 73). False
prophets figured in that revolt (Josephus J.W. 6.5.2 ¤¤285-87; 7.11.1 ¤¤437-39; Ant. 20.5.1 ¤97); but one did not have to claim
messiahship to be a false prophet. Cf. Acts 5:36; 8:9; 21:38.
dogmatically declares the following in one of his books: " Josephus tells of ' a
certain impostor named Theudas . . .' Dositheus, a Samaritan, ' pretended that
he was the lawgiver prophesied of by Moses.' "  DeMar contends that
these all made claims to be the Messiah. However, none of these actually
claimed to be Messiah when examined closely.
of these statements could be described as false prophets, but not false
Messiahs. DeMar is playing fast and loose with the data because he has such a
large investment in their view that all this took place in the first century.
H. A. W. Meyer clarifies the issue when he notes,
We possess no historical record of any false Messiahs having appeared previous
to the destruction of Jerusalem
(Barcochba did not make his appearance till the time of Hadrian); for Simon
Magus (Acts viii. 9), Theudas (Acts v. 36), the Egyptian (Acts xxi. 38),
Menander, Dositheus, who have been referred to as cases in point (Theophylact,
Euthymius Zigabenus, Grotius, Calovinus, Bengel), did not pretend to be the Messiah. Comp. Joseph Antt. Xx. 5. 1; 8. 6; Bell. Ii. 13. 5.
Another says, " The first and second centuries saw quite a few
famous false prophets who made eschatological claims," as I have noted above.
However, they further say, " That any of them (before Bar Kochba) said, in so
many words, ' I am Messiah' , is undemonstrated by the sources." 
Finally, Leon Morris tells us, " in this place the meaning is rather that they
will claim for themselves the name Messiah, Jesus' own title." Morris explains:
This will surely be a
reference to the last days, for there is little evidence that any of the
turbulent men so active preceding the fall of Jerusalem ever claimed to be the
Messiah. Some claimed to be prophets, but that is not the same thing.
Even if some first century
individuals did claim to be the Messiah- they did not- it would not fulfill this
passage. This is one of the many reasons that it looks to the future
tribulation and the coming of the beast of Revelation, popularly known down
through Christendom as the antichrist. DeMar is just plain wrong. But this
doesn' t matter because he has a position to defend.
The Day and The Hour
of the main reasons why preterism is wrong is because it cannot satisfactorily
demonstrate that Matthew 24:27- 31 was fulfilled in the a.d. 70 event. This is why I challenged DeMar in the date
and in the article to tell us when Christ returned to planet earth in the first
century. Had Christ returned as described in that passage, surely Josephus
would have observed it. But even the verbose Josephus does not record such an
event, because it did not occur. Whey the second coming of Christ- as described
prophetically in Matthew 24:27- 31- occurs, we will all be able to note the day
and the hour. The description of Christ' s return in this passage is of a
nature that it will be such a public event that will be observed by multitudes
of people. The exact day and hour of this event will not be lost in human
DeMar cannot answer my question, as usual, he attempts a debater' s ploy. He
asks me to tell him when Jesus was born. Such a question supports my point,
not DeMar' s. There were a few people who observed that event and had God
desired, they could have recorded for history the exact day, time, and place.
It was a distinctly observable event. However, with thousands of people on the
scene in a.d. 70, no one was able
to observe the event of Christ' s return, since it did not happen. Even with
one of the world' s most famous historians on the scene- Josephus- no one was able
to see our Lord' s return as described in Matthew 24:27- 31. Reason: It did not
happen! Thus, Matthew 24 was not fulfilled in a.d.
suggests that Matthew 24:27- 31 was fulfilled in the same way that passages like
Isaiah 19:1 and Micah 1:3 were fulfilled. As DeMar so often does in his
preterist writings, he attempts to read back into Matthew 24 the contexts of
those Old Testament passages into Matthew 24. In a nutshell, the problem with
DeMar' s approach is that it is not supported by the Matthew 24 context. The
contexts of Isaiah 19 and Micah 1 support DeMar' s contention, but only in those
Old Testament contexts. However, if he is going to import such an idea into
Matthew 24, he must make a case from Matthew 24 that supports his idea of a non-physical
return in a.d. 70. Of course he
cannot. DeMar just declares that these passages govern Matthew 24. The only
possible relation is that it is driven by DeMar' s enslavement to supporting his
believes that Acts 1:11 teaches a future second coming. There are more
similarities between Acts 1:9- 11 and Matthew 24:27- 31. Why not have Acts 1:11
inform Matthew 24:27- 31? In fact, Jesus said that the next time He would come,
it would be to the Mount of Olives and riding on a cloud. Sorry Gary, but the
focus of a.d. 70 was the Temple
Mount, not the Mount of Olives. Maranatha!