By Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr
Preterism is attacked on several grounds. One of those is the moral ground of promoting anti-Semitism. I have been looking at this question in the two previous blogs. Now I must engage a defense of preterism against this heinous charge.
Is the preterist scheme anti-Semitic as dispensationalists charge? This is personal to me for I myself have been criticized for promoting this “anti-Semitic” theology. Before I even start with the general defense of preterism against this charge, I will clearly and forth-rightly state: anti-Semitism is evil and should not be held by any Christian. You cannot be anti-Semitic and follow Jesus’ command: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I will also declare that I myself am opposed to anti-Semitism and have never held to it or any form of racism.
But this issue is not about me. So I must speak to the broader issue regarding whether or not preterism as such is anti-Semitic. My answer to this question should be surmised from all that I have said before: No. Preterism as a theological construct is not anti-Semitic. Let me now begin responding to the “preterism = anti-Semitism” charge.
In today’s blog I will present a definitional defense.
First, I would point out that we need to define our terms. What is “anti-Semitism”? A basic, sufficient definition is found in Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary. There we learn that “anti-Semitism” is: “1. prejudice against Jews; dislike or fear of Jews and Jewish things. 2. discrimination against or persecution of Jews.” This is the only legitimate definition in alleging anti-Semitism. No plank in the preterist system suggests that preterism dislikes Jews, fears them, or wants to discriminate against or persecute them.
The belief that God will not once again exalt Israel above all other nations (as in the OT, e.g., Dt 7:6–8; Psa 147:19–20) is not anti-Semitic. It may be contra-Judaic, but it is not anti-Semitic. That is, preterism may contradict religious Judaism theologically, but it does not persecute racial Jews personally or socially.
Second, I would point out another necessary definition. Preterism teaches that (1) God punished Israel; and he did so (2) in the events of the first century. Preterism holds neither that Christians were ever called upon to persecute Jews (in either the first century or today) nor that God’s judgment wrath is to continue against them today. The prophetically-determined, biblically-defined judgment of God came against them in the concrete, historical, non-repeatable events of the first century. That was the generation that rejected Christ; that temple was the focus of his wrath. Those people and that institution have long since perished.
We need to distinguish between an interpretation of a book written 2000 years ago in the context of great struggle for the life of the church and the ravings of modern racists, zealots, and hotheads. I am inter-preting a book regarding events that occurred twenty centuries ago; I am not calling for a continued pogrom against the Jews. In fact, my evangelical Christian theology forbids it (do unto others) as well as my postmillennial expectations (all people-groups will be saved), as well as the obvious fact that my Savior and his apostles were Jewish.
In tomorrow’s blod I will continue my defense of preterism against the charge of anti-Semitism. See you at 5:30 am sharp!