Gary DeMar’s Heretical Eschatology: What Did I Know, and When Did I Know It?
I don’t intend to pursue further the controversy over Hyper-Pretersim (HP) brought to light by this letter signed by a number of Gary’s friends.
But I feel obliged to respond to Gary’s statement that he hasn’t changed his views in about 25 years, and that I have continued to promote him during that time, and only lately have I objected to his views. Have I just over the last few months become more severe in my judgment on heresy? Was I tolerant of Gary’s false teaching for a quarter century and only in the last few weeks become publicly intolerant of it?
The short answer is no. Here’s the longer answer:
Gary is quite correct that I had concerns over his eschatology 25 years ago. The HP heresy was rearing its ugly head. Its books were being carried by the late Walt Hibbard at the now defunct Great Christian Books, which was influential in the Reformed camp at that time. By reliable accounts, noted author David Chilton had embraced the HP heresy before his premature death. Many people seemed to have had the impression that to embrace postmillennialism was to embrace preterism, and even heretical HP.
At the time I was at the Chalcedon Foundation, a postmillennial (but non-preterist) ministry, and I publicly opposed the HP heresy. I published an article by Ken Gentry opposing it. Since I knew Gary as a preterist was speaking very publicly about eschatology, I asked him if he embraced HP. His response was annoyance, and, as I recall, even indignation. I made an assumption at the time, and it now appears it was an incorrect assumption: that Gary was indignant that I would dare to ask him if he held to orthodox Christianity, since he obviously did. I now see he was indignant that I would question him about his beliefs at all, and that already, at that time, he was moving to the edges or outside the Christian Faith.
In the intervening years, I have read almost nothing of Gary’s eschatology. I assumed that he was a partial preterist like Ken Gentry. Ken has always been solidly orthodox, and I assumed that Gary basically agreed with Ken. Anything I’ve read of Gary’s the last 25 years has dealt with his cultural critiques, which have been excellent. When I asked him to write the chapter on eschatology for our recent book Failed Church, I certainly did not believe he stood outside the orthodox Faith, and that chapter does not express any heresy. It appears now, as a result of Gary’s recent, or at least recently publicized, statements, CCL will need to exclude that chapter from the book. I certainly would never have recruited Gary to write had I known his actual views.
The late Ken Talbot, founder and president of Whitfield Seminary, called me four or five years ago to warn me that he thought Gary was moving into the HP heresy. He said that Gary was speaking at HP conferences, and while there would never offer any kind of distinction between his view and theirs. Because I try to avoid guilt-by-association, I didn’t assume this meant Gary himself was HP. I believe Ken told me that he either left or was voted off the American Vision board because he took a stand on this issue. I don’t know the details about this, but I’m certain that’s what he told me. Ken was a strong opponent of the HP heresy.
Only in the last year have I become increasingly aware of Gary’s eschatological heresy. I was first alerted to it when early last year I listened to a podcast of his in which he answered a listener’s question of which NT texts teach the Second Coming. His response was that those who believe in the Second Coming refer to several biblical texts. He did not state that he believes the Bible teaches the Second Coming.
And then I noted that Gary refused on Facebook to answer Ken Gentry’s basic questions about whether Gary believed in the future bodily Second Coming, and the future bodily resurrection and judgment of the righteous and unrighteous, all of which all orthodox Christians affirm. Gary had consistently prodded Ken with public questions that, at best, indicated a tolerance for HP. Ken assembled a group of Gary’s friends to write him privately about this. Gary did not respond. We sent this letter twice, and I engaged with Gary privately about it, though Gary abruptly ended that exchange. Some have suggested that we should have contacted Gary privately before publishing that letter. We did. Several times.
It was that collaborative private letter that, with cosmetic revision, we published recently. No fair-minded person could claim this letter is bitter, mean, bullying, or unloving.
Over the last two weeks, several friends have provided me with evidence that, unknown to me, over the last two or three years Gary has been bold to deny fundamental elements of the Christian Faith. Here’s a clip filmmaker Nathan Anderson provided me from an interview within the last couple of years in which Gary denies the future physical resurrection. This episode was especially troubling since it seems Gary was being interviewed on a non-Christian program. And then Matt Doyle wrote this on his Facebook page:
The fact is Gary has exegeted 1 Cor. 15. He just doesn't want us to know that since it conflicts with his present HP views.
I found a PDF of Gary DeMar's 1999 edition of Last Day Madness which was a revision of the original 1994 edition.
“Jesus coming in 70 AD was a coming in judgment upon an apostate nation. When Jesus returns bodily — a still future event — He will have “abolished all rule and authority and power,” having put “all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). We await this glorious coming.”
Last Day Madness (1994) — Gary DeMar, p. 318
In comparing it to the fourth edition (1999) what did I find? It had been edited out. So as long as 24 years ago Gary was headed down the HP path. When in recent times I asked him to affirm that he still held this view he refused to answer.
As further proof I call your attention to this:
In a recent article (“The End of the Age” (Part 1) https://bit.ly/3DmhmPS he said this:
“‘The end’ in Matthew 10:22; 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20; Mark 13:7, 13; Luke 21:9; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 10:11; 15:24; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 6:11; 9:26; Revelation 2:26 means nothing more than the end being described in the context, not the end of everything.”
Notice that he quotes 1 Cor. 15:24 as being in this category. This is a complete contradiction of what he said in Last Day Madness in 1994. Is there any wonder that when he is asked to give passages for where the yet future, bodily, Second Coming of Christ appears in Scripture he does not cite 1 Cor. 15:24-25 (or any other passages) as he did in Last Day Madness? He no longer holds that it is about "the end" of all things but only the "end of the age" in 70 AD. If that is not Full Preterism, then I guess I don't know what is.
Also, do you think Gary would affirm this today?
"...believers will not enter the kingdom with disembodied souls. They will enter the final kingdom with resurrected, spiritual bodies (emphasis his). Jesus ate with His disciples after His resurrection (Luke 24:40-43). His disciples were able to touch and see Him. He even called attention to His "flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). Yet, he was raised with a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:45-46)."
The Reduction of Christianity, (1988), pg.154
I cannot verify all of Matt’s original sources, but you might understand how these revelations troubled me.
Gary has begged for patience while he works through these eschatological issues. For awhile, I referred to his views as “agnostic” and “ambiguous.” It is clear to me now that his views are no longer agnostic or ambiguous at all. He simply denies the orthodox Faith. Indeed, he mocks it, as he does here from a public statement over the last few days:
These are not the assertions of a man on a theological journey, but a man who has arrived at a comfortable residence safely ensconced outside orthodox Christianity.
I am now willing to acknowledge Gary has held his present heretical views for 25 years. My honest explanation for why I’ve continued to promote him during that long time is that I did not know he held these views. Perhaps I’ve been naïve in not investigating further, but when these views did become apparent to me, I did confront Gary.
My opposition to heresy and false doctrine is not severer now than it was 25 years ago. I abominate the heresy when the theological liberals mock the future bodily resurrection, and I abominate it when Gary mocks it. Both are destructive heresies.
I did not know until very recently that Gary has now embraced full-bore heresy. I know it now.
And I oppose (and have always opposed) these views — without apology, and without qualification.
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"First" and "Second" refer to BODILY comings . Heb. 9:26-28 designates this clearly. Otherwise, how is the judgment coming in 70AD "for salvation"?... Christians indeed escaped to Pella then, but this passage is referencing salvation FROM SIN effectuated for all who ever lived and all who will live and all who are alive when He comes again per Acts 1:11.
Appreciate this, especially as someone unfamiliar with the players involved and has been guilty of naïveté on more than one occasion.