Friday, August 01, 2014

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The Debate Over Christian Reconstruction

Author:  Gary DeMar

Book Review by Ed Stevens

DeMar, Gary. The Debate Over Christian Reconstruction. Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, 1988. Available from: Great Christian Books in Elkton, Maryland.

Gary DeMar has written a number of books, including: God and Government: A Biblical and Historical Study, God and Government: Issues in Biblical Perspective, Ruler of Nations: Biblical Blueprints for Government, and The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt. Currently, he is the president of an educational and communications ministry in Atlanta, Georgia, called American Vision. He graduated from Western Michigan University, and received his M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary. Gary is married to Carol, and has two sons, David and James.

The Debate was written not only as an answer to a debate between the author (whose partner was Gary North), and Tommy Ice and Dave Hunt, but also as a presentation of what Christian Reconstruction is all about. The first ten chapters of the book contain “a brief and popular apologetic for Christian Reconstruction,” in which Mr. DeMar explains what the Reconstructionist position is, and deals with misconceptions (especially those perpetuated by the premillennialist school of eschatology). The next seven chapters are a presentation of the debate material, with comments and explanations by the author. These are followed by three appendices, the first being an alternative hypothesis of what the abomination of desolation represents, the second, a presentation of the place of Israel in historic postmillennial thought, and the third, a letter from a Christian Jew countering accusations of anti-Semitism in postmillennialist theology.

I found this book to be very insightful and intriguing. Mr. DeMar writes in a clear and easy to understand manner, and presents arguments that are very convincing. Throughout the book, he supports the preterist position, saying at one point, “Christian Reconstruction does not stand or fall on any single interpretation of this controversial passage [Mt.24]. We do believe, however, that the preterist interpretation is the correct one.” In another place, however, he tempers the above statement by saying, “The use of the [term] preterist in this book simply means an A.D. 70 fulfillment of much of New Testament prophecy.” It is hard to believe that, even after presenting abundant evidence to support a first-century fulfillment, DeMar still insists that the Second Coming is yet future! When discussing the parable of the good steward (Lk.19:27), he says, “I’m not sure that Jesus is teaching His Second Coming in this parable. .... His return seems to occur within a generation, not two thousand years later, in which case the descendants would be required to give an accounting of their ancestors’ investments.” Although he recognizes the limited time factor, he uses this to deny that this coming is the “Second Coming.” It is too bad he couldn’t “go all the way” with his conclusions. Scripture certainly warrants it! The “preterist” position Mr. DeMar holds to is an inconsistent one.

In spite of the inconsistency of his eschatological position, I found this book to be a refreshing change from (to coin a phrase of David Chilton) the “pessimillennialism” of today’s popular futurist authors. Based on the fact that Christ is now reigning, DeMar calls for the Church to wake up and begin to acknowledge their victorious position in Him. Countering the accusations of sensationalist writers, who claim that the Reconstructionist movement merely wants to take everything over, he says (p.199): The world has already been taken over by Christ. We do not take over anything. Because we, through adoption, are children of God, “fellow-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). We inherit what He already possesses. As the meek of God, we “inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

In the appendix dealing with the alternate hypothesis of what the abomination of desolation represents, James B. Jordan asserts that the abomination was “apostate Judaism, and that the Man of Sin spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2 is the apostate High Priest of Israel.” In their rejection of Christ and His sacrifice, the sacrifices and Temple worship became abominations to God. The final desecration came with the Idumean invasion of the Temple and its holy place. Being full of abominations, it was destroyed by God, through the instrument of the Roman armies. Jesus, as the true High Priest, inspected His house and, finding it to be full of leprosy, ordered it to be torn down (p.240).

In the next appendix, DeMar discusses the historical postmillennial position, and what it teaches regarding the place of Israel. He quotes various Reformation and Puritan writers in order to prove that postmills do know “what to do with Israel,” contrary to the claim of Tommy Ice. It is asserted that a time is coming in which most of the people of Israel will be saved. Apparently, the author believes the modern-day State of Israel is that Israel spoken of in the Bible. He assures us that, according to the historical postmill position, a majority of the Jewish people will be converted to Christianity at some future time. This appendix is followed by a letter from a Jewish Christian who holds to postmillennial eschatology, and whose purpose in writing is to assure the public that it is not anti-Semitic. In his conclusion to a chapter on “Putting Eschatology into Perspective,” DeMar writes: The degeneration of culture is laid at the feet of the people of God. Who expects humanism to bring revival? So then, why are Christians surprised when they see personal and societal decay all around them? The church, for the most part, has given the world over to those who despise Christ.

We can certainly agree with Mr. DeMar’s concluding remarks (p. 231): “A fresh study of Scripture is needed to put the church on the right road. This may mean discarding long-cherished doctrines that have no foundation in the Bible.” Amen!





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