In 2005 I brought Hal Lindsey to the Twin Cities for a large conference. Hal’s book, “Late-Great Planet Earth,” had a profound impact on me as a young person. I certainly would not be in this ministry were it not for the end-time apologetics I learned from Hal. Like all of us, he is a flawed man and may not have every conclusion exactly right but he ignited an interest in the things to come by making those issues much easier to understand.
He told me that some who hold to improper eschatology will often disagree with great contention. He said the same to the entire audience a few hours later. He didn’t understand why we couldn’t disagree without all the bloodshed.
Let me add that I appreciate all of you who write in disagreement to anything but keep the tone respectful. We see through a glass darkly now (I Corinthians 13:12).
Lindsey was right about the propensity to contend contentiously. Preterist Gary DeMar says I have a “nonsense conference.” Tell that to the tens of thousands who have attended one or more of the 20 conferences and return home very very blessed. Some even found salvation.
But DeMar says my attendees only hear “regurgitated prophetic speculation.” We are all discredited date-setting prophecy pundits.
A few years ago Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, came out as a Preterist. That theological aberration says all prophecy is past: It all happened in 70 A.D. We missed it! It’s actually history, not prophecy. Who knew?
To believe that then I’ve been studying something that is ancient history and offers no hope for the future. There is no Rapture and no Millennium. Nothing. Our “blessed hope” went up in smoke. We can only pour through the history books to learn that prophecy was fulfilled almost 2,000 years ago. This stretches credulity since one-third of the Bible — all references to things to come — is written in a futuristic tone.
Why wouldn’t the Bible clearly state we should look back and not to the future? The conundrum is this–if it’s already taken place, why the instruction to watch and be ready? The prophesied season of the Lord’s return is to be as in the days of Noah–certainly a 21st Century reference and not an AD 70 reference. (Luke 17)
On “The Bible Answer Man” on January 23, a caller asked Hank what he thought of Olive Tree Ministries. I hardly thought I was on his radar. The daughter of Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, is a very prominent player in my ministry and her father founded the Christian Research Institute. Hank took it over after Martin’s death in 1989.
Hank fired away once the caller asked him his opinion of this ministry. Without hesitation he said I am “reprehensible,” “unreliable,” “sensational,” “a blight on our times,” “leading the gullible,” and engage in “Script-torture.” How thankful I am for Matthew 5:11: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you…”
Hanegraaff admits that his ministry “lost millions” when he came out as a Preterist. Churches and conferences cancelled him. His open door to the world became a slammed shut door.
The fall-guys became John Darby, Dr. Mark Hitchcock, Tim LaHaye — and now Olive Tree Ministries and Jan Markell. One who really challenged Hank was Dr. Mark Hitchcock who debated him a few years ago. There isn’t much left of Preterism after the three-hour debate. I will provide the link at the end of this report. Hitchcock reveals the real script-torture that Preterism represents.
Here are just a few bullet points for you to ponder before you turn on The Bible Answer Man again. Maybe it doesn’t matter but it should. Hanegraaff embraces these beliefs:
God is not pro-Jew.
Dispensationalism must be denounced. He prays it will fade into the shadowy recesses of history and laments that it is the “reigning theology in the West.”(That’s because it is truth)
God has only one chosen people: Christians. God is not a racist. He hasn’t blessed any one group of people based of one’s birth mother. In other words, Jews, get over it: You’re not “chosen.”
Hanegraaff believes all followers of Christ are the chosen people — something those believing in Replacement Theology hold to. It is tragic that this is a part of the “answers” to evangelicals from the Bible Answer Man. What must Dr. Walter Martin be thinking? He loved the Jews.
Stephen Sizer is his hero. Sizer is a blatant anti-Semite from the U.K. who hangs out with Ayatollah Khomeini’s daughters. Such association will not do Hank’s Preterism any good.
God is not a land-broker basing things on genetics. Read that as Israel doesn’t belong to the Jews.
The Rapture is nonsense invented by John Darby and is “forced onto the biblical text.”
Hanegraaff made it clear he does not recommend me or apparently my associates, Jill Martin Rische or Eric Barger.
Hank participates in the Israel-bashing at the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences and is seen there identifying with the like-minded, Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge, and Colin Chapman. Sizer, Burge and Chapman despise Israel. This is not a club of which you want to be a member if you love the truth of God and His plan for Israel.
He closes his 2016 message at Christ at the Checkpoint by making an appeal that with non-essential theology we behave with charity so we can debate in a cordial fashion. I don’t think the mud-slinging he did at this ministry was done in a cordial manner. His voice was firm and angry as he addressed the caller’s question about this ministry. “Olive Tree Ministries is a blight on our times” he stated.
Eric Barger, my radio co-host, wrote a provocative commentary a few years ago, “When Discernment Turns Ugly.” He states, “From what is sometimes only one pen or keyboard, judgment is meted out against the suspected offender as newsletters are printed, blogs are published, seminars are given, and whole ministries and reputations are possibly done irreversible harm. All this takes place no matter how flimsy the evidence presented may be, and often over non-essential theologies! This should disgust the Christian community and I fear for the next generation of apologists (and those they’ll likely influence) who are being schooled by this example.”
Got Questions says this about Preterism: “According to Preterism, all prophecy in the Bible is really history. The Preterist interpretation of Scripture regards the book of Revelation as a symbolic picture of first-century conflicts, not a description of what will occur in the end times. The term Preterism comes from the Latin praeter, meaning ‘past.’
“Thus, Preterism is the view that the biblical prophecies concerning the ‘end times’ have already been fulfilled — in the past. Preterism is directly opposed to futurism, which sees the end-time prophecies as having a still-future fulfillment.”
Got Questions says, “Preterism is divided into two types: Full (or consistent) Preterism and Partial Preterism.”
“Preterism teaches that the Law was fulfilled in AD 70 and God’s covenant with Israel was ended.”
Partial Preterists do believe in the return of Christ to earth and a future resurrection and judgment, but they do not teach a Millennial Kingdom or that Israel as a nation has a place in God’s future plan. According to Partial Preterists, the Bible’s references to “the last days” are speaking of the last days of the Old Jewish Covenant, not the last days of the earth itself.
Hanegraaff says Israel should not be treated as the object of our eschatological hope. He denies the 144,000 are Jews and denies the Two Witnesses are literal. He misses the essential apologetic of history: God has two distinct people. And he would apply Zechariah 2:8 to the church: “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye'” Within evangelicalism, this is always a reference to Israel.
If you appreciate this ministry, drop Hank a polite email through Christian Research Institute. Some ministries would never recover from such a verbal assault as was directed at Olive Tree back on January 23. If this is the new apologetics style, God help us. It has become blood sport.
Watch the three-hour debate over Preterism with Dr. Mark Hitchcock and Hank Hanegraaff here
Jan Markell’s Website: www.olivetreeviews.org