A Call to Conservatism
Kurt M. Simmons
David Curtis: The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved: Who
Wrote the Fourth Gospel?
(2007) "At the
end of the Fourth Gospel Jesus is talking to Peter and tells him what
kind of death he would experience. In response to this:
Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom
Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His
breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?"
21 Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus,
"Lord, and what about this man?"
21:20-21 NASB). Jesus tells Peter how he is going to die
and Peter’s response is, “What about Lazarus”? As soon as the topic
became death, who did Peter’s mind turn to? Lazarus!
Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I
come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"
21:22 NASB) This is a preteristic verse. Jesus is saying, If I
want Lazarus to live until I come what is that to you. Would Jesus say
this if His coming was thousands of years away?
Wrote the Fourth Gospel? "In
these twelve short pages we have marshaled by
a small portion of the evidence demonstrating that John, the son of
Zebedee was the author of the fourth gospel. Novel ideas placing
authorship in Lazarus are without merit and should
A new error surfaced recently in Preterist circles, which argues that
Lazarus, not John, was the “beloved disciple” who leaned upon Jesus’ breast
and penned the fourth gospel. The source of this novel idea is a short book
by J. Philips, entitled “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.” I do not know if
the author is a Preterist, but he has found followers within the leadership
of the Preterist movement. We certainly do not want to attack anyone.
However, there can be no question that the book is frivolous and utterly
without merit. A search on the internet under the prompt “author of the
fourth gospel” shows that there are four or five sites advocating this
doctrine, about the same number as those advocating Mary Magdalene as the
secret authoress. In our view, one is about as worthy of credibility as the
other, which hovers somewhere near zero.
Over the course of two thousand years, the best minds and most able scholars
– men of house-hold name like Eusebuis, Jerome, and Augustine, Erasmus, and
Calvin, among countless lesser known others, have searched the scriptures to
identify the author of the fourth gospel. The verdict of these learned
experts has been all but unanimous in favor the John, the son of Zebedee.
Now, after two thousand years, comes a man with little learning, no
scholarship, no evidence, and a poorly written and reasoned book arguing
that Lazarus was the “secret” author. And who listens to him? Members of the
Preterist community! For shame! At exactly the point where the utmost
caution and circumspection ought to have been displayed, where there ought
to have been required the most exacting evidence and scholarship before
embracing so novel and unprecedented a doctrine, there has been haste and
recklessness; where the senses should have been trained and alert to the
enormous improbability that Lazarus was the secret of author of the fourth
gospel, and has only now been discovered after two thousand years, there was
naiveté and wild-eyed abandon. And all of Preterism must suffer because of
In the early 1800’s, German higher critics attacked the authenticity and
historicity of virtually every book of the Bible, impugning the authorship
of the Pentateuch, Isaiah, the gospels, the pastoral epistles, and
Revelation. The Pentateuch they claimed was written by a “Jehovahist” and an
“Eloihimist” whose separate works were later edited and combined in one.
Isaiah was written by two men, not the prophet whose name the book bears.
Paul did not write the pastoral epistles; John did not write Revelation, and
so forth. Regarding the fourth gospel, the attacks proceeded along various
lines, some putting the fourth gospel beyond John’s ability to write by
late-dating, and others by objections to its historicity and doctrine.
German higher critics were some of the best scholars from world class
universities; their scholarship made their skepticism formidable; the
affects of their assault upon the citadel of faith are seen even to this
day. Whole churches have gone over to liberalism because of a diminished
authority of the Bible as God’s inerrant and verbally inspired word.
Countless souls have been lost to the lies of higher criticism. However, the
critics’ attacks were not unanswered. The best and most able scholars
Christianity could produced rose to the occasion and answered the
objections, routing the enemy and driving them from the field. John’s
authorship of the fourth gospel in particular has been completely vindicated
against the specious theories of the critics.
However, authorship of the fourth gospel is NOT the real issue. The real
issue is the penchant of some for novel and sensational teachings, an
obsession for issues that boarder on the fringe. Trafficking in issues on
the fringe is courting trouble. Those who make a steady diet of dealing in
the novel and sensational, are like those that build with wood, hay, and
stubble – in the day and hour of need, their faith will fail them!
Christianity is not about sensational issues, but about CHANGED LIVES and
the SALVATION OF THE SOUL. The substance of our faith is the CROSS and the
power of God’s word to convict of sin and elevate men above their fallen
nature. It is the power to redeem man from sin and to reclaim ruined lives.
It is about how to raise our families so that our sons grow up to be men of
God and our daughters grow up chaste and pure; it is about well ordered
lives and happy and harmonious homes; about a culture whose values are
brought into conformity to Christ, and whose government is compelled to
acknowledge the superior claim of God to man’s allegiance and obedience. It
is about gratitude toward God for sparing us when we were worthy of death,
and daily heaping his benefits upon us. It is not about speculative
questions and issues of idle curiosity of the sort represented by Mr.
If it is to retain respectability before its critics Preterism needs a
healthy dose of conservatism. Who cannot imagine Ken Gentry and Keith
Matheson sitting patiently by, cataloging the frivolous material that gains
currency among Preterists, lying in wait to use it against us when we are
most vulnerable to assault? Imagine being in a debate only to have your
opponent bring before the audience the laundry list of Preterist gaffs that
have circulated over the years. How much credibility would we retain before
an audience when it is informed of some Preterist beliefs? An inventory of
dubious Preterist beliefs includes:
“Heaven now” – the notion that Christians are already
in heaven now.
“Immortal bodies now” - the idea that we already
possess our immortal bodies.
“Covenantal Adam” – the idle notion Adam and Eve were
not the first created living-beings, but were only the first humans with
whom God was in covenant.
“Covenantal creation” – the theory that the Genesis
account isn’t about the material creation of the planet earth but is
only symbolic of God’s creation of covenant Israel.
Regional flood - the idea that the historical
narratives of Genesis must be reinterpreted through a “covenantal”
paradigm, assuming the use of apocalyptic language, making the flood
merely local and covenantal, not universal.
Old Earth Creationism – the idea that the creation
account of Genesis is but an allegory or metaphoric account, and must be
interpreted “covenantally” in reference to Old Testament Israel. This
view also urges that the six days of creation are merely symbolic or
that a gap must be read into the text, and that the earth is billions of
Antinomianism – the teaching that with abolition of
the law of Moses, no law exists today that condemns men or Christians
Universalism/Comprehensive Grace – Mankind lives in a
new world because the law has been done away; all men will be saved.
Anti-sacramentalism – It is unnecessary to keep the
ordinances or sacraments of the church; the Lord’s Supper and baptism
belonged to the time of types and shadows, but were done away at the
These are just some of the spurious ideas floating about Preterist circles
today. Some of them are silly but harmless, others very destructive and even
dangerous. Jesus said “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
(Mk. 16:16) Peter said, “Baptism doth also now save us.” (I Pet. 3:21) Any
fair treatment of these passages must place a pretty high importance upon
the ordinance/sacrament of baptism. For someone to teach these commandments
are not necessary to obey is serious stuff. Inasmuch as they are little more
than accommodations with evolution, I feel old earth creationism and the
covenantal Adam ideas are dangerous as well. The Lazarus issue is sillier
that it is serious, but because it strikes at the confidence men place in
scripture it can only be injurious. Indeed, no error is to our advantage,
certainly not one that impugns the apostolic authorship of the gospels.
Please do not misunderstand me. I do not have any sacred cows, and feel the
search for truth is always commendable. But, when our search constantly
involves us with issues upon the fringe, something is wrong. Paul told
Timothy “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do
gender strifes.” (II Tim. 2:23) Virtually every item on the list probably
qualifies as an “unlearned question.” Would someone truly learned in the
scripture say that Adam was not the first man, or that the six days of
creation actually spanned billions of years, that we are in heaven now, or
that John was not the author of the fourth gospel? I rather doubt it.
We want to encourage Preterists everywhere to exercise the utmost caution
and restraint in embracing anything new or that smacks of what is novel or
sensational. Truth is very old and for the most part very obvious. An
occasional pearl, like Preterism, has been lost along the way where it
patiently waited to be rediscovered. But this is the exception, not the
rule. For the most part, plain old vanilla is the order of the day when it
comes to the important stuff of truth and Christianity. Do not let an
unhealthy penchant for collateral issues be what defines your faith. God
bless you as you study his word.
 The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved © 2004 by J. Phillips – Revised
Third Edition, First Edition
What do YOU think ?
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Date: 02 Sep 2007
Who cares who wrote the book of John?
Who cares if we are in Heaven now or later?
Who cares if we have immortal bodies now or later?
Who cares about the other stuff?
That will not help anyone to have a relationship with God or help a person
be a better servant to
Things like this is why Preterism if failing. We are spending too much time
debating each other on dumb issues, instead of helping and encouraging
people in thier walk with God.
Date: 02 Sep 2007
Very good points. I agree. And its always interesting how we can, each of
us, at times see so clearly and then other times emulate the very things we
Let's recognise BI-MILLENNIALISM for what it is, too: one more for 30-70AD
Millennialism's embarrassing list.
"Bi-Millennialism" - Preterism's peculiar contrivance that Revelation 20:1-7
is describing TWO distinct periods differentiated by a) "A thousand years"
and b) "THE thousand years."
[Authored & promoted by none other than 30-70AD Millennialism's own Kurt
Date: 03 Sep 2007
I'm honored that you feel I'm dangerous rather than silly.
But I'm at a loss to understand why you feel so confidant that a lion in
paradise is safe because it is in paradise. A lion is a lion. Its very name
in Hebrew (the name Adam gave it before the Fall) means violent. Paradise is
not what you think it is.
Paradise is dangerous. That is a very old truth that, like preterism, has
Covenantal Adam is not "an idle notion." Covenantal creation, old-earth
creationism, and a regional Flood are very old truths that have "been lost
along the way."