Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Perspicuity vs Perplexity

In my previous post I discussed an article written by Dan Doriani at The Gospel Coalition website. In that post, I objected to the fact the Gospel Coalition editors did not clarify the point that Professor Doriani's article, titled What is the 'Abomination of Desolation'?, expressed a partial-preterist take on Matthew 24 which not all, nor even most, evangelicals agree with.

In this post I want to examine some points of Professor Doriani's approach in the article itself. Professor Doriani makes a number of generalizations about the passage without doing much exegesis. Considering the length of the article, this is not unusual for a short treatment of this type. But if the aim is to clear up perplexity, that would seem to require unpacking the verses.

The essay asserts that "Evangelical scholars...generally agree that (Matthew) 24: 3-35 mostly refers to events leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70." Except they don't...beginning with the Abomination of Desolation itself. The majority evangelical viewpoint isn't going to go away simply by being ignored. The urgency described in verses 17-20 is not the type of urgency that matched AD 70. People not only  had time to go back into their houses to retrieve supplies, but were also able to anticipate the approaching siege by the Romans. Verses 17-20 describe a frantic urgency in which minutes are critical and isolate the event to a single day, hence the instruction in verse 20 to pray that it does not fall on a Sabbath, when travel would be more difficult.

Verse 21 depicts a superlative tribulation unmatched before or since. This did not occur in AD 70. Verse 22 warns of a threat to all human existence. Verses 23-26 warn of deception on a massive scale, and finally, verses 29-31 describe cataclysmic signs and wonders witnessed by the entire planet culminating in the Second Coming. Didn't happen in AD 70.

Professor Doriani concludes, "This prophecy makes sense only with reference to the fall of Jerusalem", but never engages the key defeaters of this statement, among them verses 16-31. He therefore takes a fairly clear passage and makes it perplexing by seeking to shoehorn it into a preconceived partial-preterist construct.

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