Keith Mathison’s Preterist Hermeneutic and Flawed Presuppositions

I have always believed that hyper-preterism (which is heresy because they deny the future resurrection) is more consistent than partial-preterism, albeit they are consistently wrong. (It goes without saying that I believe futurism is the only feasible, consistent interpretation of Jesus, Paul, and the book of Revelation.)

It is not surprising to see a hyper-preterist make a devastating critique of Keith Mathison’s inconsistent preterist hermeneutic. Mathison is barely a partial preterist who seems to be moving toward hyper-preterism in recent years. In order to stay orthodox, Mathison still needs to affirm the future resurrection, but this requires him to be overtly inconsistent in his hermeneutic.

Here is an Amazon review by a noted hyper-preterist giving a poignant critique of Mathison:

┬áThere are some very significant changes in this book from some of Mathison’s previously written works on eschatology that need to be pointed out.

The main change is that Mathison used to divided Matthew 24-25 up into two sections–with two comings of Christ: 1) one in AD 70 Mt 24:1-34, and 2) one to end time Mt 24:35ff (cf. Mathison, “DISPENSATIONALISM Rightly Dividing the People of God?” p. 138ff). He is now partially following Gary DeMar’s exegesis that the OD (Olivet Discourse) is united and that the coming of Christ in Mt 25:31ff. is also a reference to Christ’s return in AD 70 (380). I say “partially” because he will not admit that the “end of the age” is the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 which is contextually tied to the destruction of the temple, which DeMar boldly points out. Mathison’s change is curious because he, along with other Reformed theologians in his book, “When Shall These Things Be?” condemned “hyper-preterists” for coming up with exegesis or interpretations that could not be found in the early church fathers. Question, “What early church father taught that the coming of the Son of Man in Mt 25:31 was NOT the “actual” Second Coming of Jesus connected to the general judgment and resurrection – as Mathison has attempted to pull off in “FROM AGE TO AGE?”

Mathison takes EVERY eschatological text in 1 and 2 Thessalonians as being fulfilled in AD 70 except for 1 Thessalonians 4 (507ff., cf. Mathison, “Postmillennialism An Eschatology of Hope” pp. 225ff.). In order to establish his preterist interpretations of say 2 Thessalonians 2, he uses the parallels or analogy of Scripture hermeneutic with Matthew 24:

2 Thess. 2:1=Matt. 24:27, 30 a coming of the Lord
2 Thess. 2:1=Matt. 24:31 a gathering together to Him
2 Thess. 2:3=Matt. 24:5, 10-12 apostasy
2 Thess. 2:7=Matt. 24:31 the mystery of lawlessness
2 Thess. 2:9-10=Matt. 24:24 satanic signs and wonders
2 Thess. 2:11=Matt. 24:5, 24 a deluding influence on unbelievers (Mathison, Postmillennialism, 230).

BUT when the resurrection is associated with Christ’s return and is the topic, he avoids the parallels that Amillennialists and Full Preterists make between Matthew 24-25 with that of 1 Thessalonians 4-5:

1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:30 from heaven
1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:31 with archangelic voice
1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:31 with God’s trumpet
1 Thess. 4:17=Matt. 24:31 believers caught up to be with Christ
1 Thess. 4:17=Matt. 24:30 believers in “clouds”
1 Thess. 5:1-2=Matt. 24:36 exact time unknown
1 Thess. 5:2=Matt. 24:43 Christ comes like a thief
1 Thess. 5:3=Matt. 24:37-39 unbelievers caught unaware
1 Thess. 5:3=Matt. 24:8 birth pains
1 Thess. 5:4-5=Matt. 24:43 believers are not deceived
1 Thess. 5:6=Matt. 24:42 believers told to be watchful
1 Thess. 5:7=Matt. 24:49 exhortation against drunkenness
1 Thess. 5:4-8=Matt. 24:27, 36-38 the day, sons of light, sons of the day (Michael Sullivan, “House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?,chapter 4, THE ESCHATOLOGICAL MADNESS OF MATHISON OR HOW CAN THESE THINGS BE?” pp. 107-108)”

Due to creedal commitments (obviously not exegesis), notice how he is FORCED to violate his own parallel hermeneutical approach – with partial preterists such as Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, James Jordan, and Peter Leithart all having the same problems. Mathison now claims that Jesus did not teach about His actual Second Coming, but Paul (through progressive revelation) did in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15. But Paul tells us that what he is teaching in 1 Thess. 4:15ff. is “According to the Lord’s own words…” (see above). Matthison is obviously “conflicted” between his hyper-creedalism and Full Preterism, and that is why he makes these bizarre statements and avoids the obvious Full or True Preterist interpretations.

Keith Mathison was my debate opponent over Full or “Hyper-Preterism” vs. “Hyper-Creedalism” in our (David Green, Sam Frost, Ed Hassertt) co-authored book, “House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?” I deal exegetically with Mathison’s contradictions in his books and his objections to Full or True Preterism. For those seeking a consistent and exegetical approach to eschatology that follows the analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation, I would recommend our book over against Mathison’s conflicted/arbitrary and self serving new interpretations. You can purchase this book from me on Amazon at the Tree of Life Ministries.


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