I cannot in one article give a proper critique of the book “Victorious Eschatology” written by Harold R. Eberle & Martin Trench. I will do a few articles pointing out highlights in an attempt to show just how unorthodox and dissenting it is. At best the book is an allegory as the author’s interpret Scripture in view of events which occurred in history. While they take parts of Matthew 24 literally, most of the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24; Mark 13), Luke 21, Daniel chapters 2 and 9 and the Revelation are spiritualized in light of history to show how the Church will eventually overcome and conquer the known world (Arts & Entertainment, Business, Education, Family, Government, Media, and Religion, i.e. the seven mountains). This then is what is known as Dominion Theology identified as “Partial preterists” or as Harold and Martin puts it, “the victorious view.”
“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people wrest to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:14-16
In the context of the verses above, Peter was expounding on the expectation of the Lord’s return on the part of the church and how it is directly related to the condition and activity of the church when He comes. Peter also gives assurance of a new inhabitable Earth following fiery destruction of the present Earth which Scripture identifies as the Day of the Lord. His reference to Paul is in the context of Paul’s epistles detailing events yet future which “untaught and unstable” people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scripture. It is my opinion that the book “Victorious Eschatology” is more than a twisting of Scripture, it is a gross misrepresentation of Eschatology altogether.
In this introduction there is one point I was to share from the book which stood out to me. It shows the direction of the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation and could at some point in time impinge on those of us who interpret apocalyptic Scripture literally, and value the significance of face-value Hermeneutics.
“We also must say that any future fulfillment must be taught as a possibility rather than as a fact. It is irresponsible to teach as doctrine something that may or may not happen. Finally, we should consider the fact that people tend to see what they believe, both because they are looking for it and because faith has power to cause the related events to take place. Please do not take this wrong. We do not mean to imply that every carless thought we have changes the world around us, but in some cases our faith can move mountains. Therefore, when futurist teachers tell their followers that there will be famines, earthquakes, wars, and a great falling away, the faith of the people has some power to activate that for which they are believing.” (Victorious Eschatology; p. 86)
Now let me start with the first sentence, the reason they can say any future fulfillment must be taught as a “possibility” rather than as a fact is because Partial Preterist believe that everything in the Book of Daniel and the Revelation with the exception of Revelation chapter 21-22 was fulfilled 2000 years ago in A.D. 70. So to them, there is nothing prophetic in the future except the Return of Jesus Christ, that is, after the church has subdued the nations of the world. Therefore, to them, there is nothing you can teach “as doctrine.” What we find here in the quote above is what the WoF and the NAR teach as the “force of faith.”
The “force of faith” is the foundation of Word of Faith theology. Proponents of the WoF and the NAR believe they can use words to manipulate the faith force and by doing so actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health, wealth). The laws governing the force of faith are said to operate independently of God’s sovereign will, God Himself being subject to the “laws of faith.” Another term coined by WoF is “Positive Confession,” whereby speaking aloud releases the force of faith, words are “containers” that carry faith and produce after their kind (Capps).
It must be understood that those in the WoF and NAR really believe they are to bring the world under the control and authority of the church before Christ can return. And to do so they also believe they must eradicate any obstacles standing in their way. That would mean people like myself, who view Daniel, the Revelation, and the Olivet Discourse as yet future. To the Emergent church and Wof leaders, those of us who conform to the ideology, ethical, and moral principles of Scripture are seen as a stumbling block to the (so called) renewal they seek. Out of these movements lines are being drawn and many of our beloved leadership are crossing over. Shortly it will become an “us and them” scenario, and those of “us” who contend for the faith, according to “them,” will have to be eradicated. Richard Abanes, author and speaker, in his book End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon, criticizes many Christians who believe we should discuss prophecy and that there is indeed a coming Armageddon. He puts solid, Bible-based Christian leaders in the same category as cult leaders such as David Koresh, who led his group to an untimely end. In the book, Reinventing Jesus Christ, he quotes Barbara Marx Hubbard who says that those who believe in an Armageddon are self-centered people who if not stopped will actually cause a self-fulfilling prophecy to take place – the destruction of the world. Marx Hubbard in her book “Revelation” tells us of a global peace plan and she calls it an “Armageddon alternative.” This alternative can actually save the world from Armageddon, she says, but only if enough people believe it and only if the world can be rid of these self-centered doomsdayers. “The species known as self-centered humanity will become extinct.
Can you see just how dangerous Word of Faith theology is, or will become if they actually achieve their goal. They view people like myself as a threat to their agenda because I by “Faith” believe there will be an Armageddon. Because men like Harold R. Eberle & Martin Trench are apostates, this is what makes them so dangerous. Matthew 24:9-12 exposes apostates as the ones who betray God’s elect, delivering them up to tribulation and death. The question to be asked is, are those of us who maintain a proper Biblical Exegeses and strive to preserve the foundational truths passed on to us by the Apostles through the Holy Scriptures really obstructing a renewal, or, are the Emergent and Word of Faith movements fulfilling eschatological prophecy? I present another question, could the Emergent Church and WoF movement be the Catalyst that ushers in the 70th week of Daniel with a one world religious system (Rev. 17:3-6)? There own words fit into the eschatological events revealed to us by Scripture as (I believe) we stand on the threshold of the 70th prophetic week spoken of by Daniel!
Getting back to the book “Victorious Eschatology,” the view presented reveals that the kingdom of God will grow and advance until it fills the earth. Harold and Martin alleges the church will rise in unity, maturity, and glory before the return of Jesus. In their opinion, futurist such as myself hold to a pessimistic and negative view of Eschatology. Truth is, it’s not my view that the Day of the Lord will come in fiery judgment, that Jesus Christ will subdue all kingdoms of the earth and sit on His millennial throne as King and Judge, it’s what God’s word teaches. I simply except and believe it, and in the end, Jesus will be victorious. The word “preterist” means “that which has past,” so the partial preterist see part of the prophecies in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation as already fulfilled. As I said previously, they only see the last two chapters of Revelation as yet future. And of course, they stress that well known preachers, teachers, and reformers, as did many fathers of the faith shared a victorious eschatology. That is, “the Church will rise in victory and power before the return of Jesus Christ has been the predominant view of the Church for the past 2,000 years.” (Victorious Eschatology; p. 4)
So let’s look at a few verses and see if what they teach lines up with the Word of God. Our first verse is 1 Timothy 4:1-2, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” Well this doesn’t seem to be to victorious, and it is the Holy Spirit who explicitly says in the “latter times” some will apostatize, denying the essential doctrines of Christianity. In fact, those who do depart from the faith will teach doctrines inspired by Satan, pretending divine inspiration, they will abandon God’s Word and become insensitive to spiritual truth. The term “later times” denotes the period of time between the First Coming and the Second Coming of Christ, so apostasy is the ultimate end for many in the church, not victory.
Peter warned of immoral and greedy “false teachers” who will use people as a means of reaching their own selfish goals. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber” 2 Peter 2:1-3. The New Testament reveals that deceptive teachers and prophets will characterize the church age and that their activities will increase “in the latter times.” The Olivet Discourse unequivocally shows the prevailing conditions of the church as the “end of the age” approaches. “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many…For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” Matthew 24:11,24.
This is all quite a contrast to what the authors of “Victorious Eschatology” paint. And to add insult to injury, Paul makes it relatively clear that before the “Day of Christ” can come, “the falling away” comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3). The definite article “the” is used specifying the noun “falling away” (Greek apostasia) stressing the emphatic form of the noun “falling away.” It’s referring to an specific event prior to the coming of the Day of Christ. Before Jesus returns, “the apostasy” will come first and there is nothing victorious about it. In closing, Matthew 24:11 has great significance today when you consider the magnitude of false prophets appearing on the world stage. They are coming out of the woodwork, having international ministries they are effective through media reaching the entire globe with heresy. Do I think that this book, “Victorious Eschatology” is dangerous? Without a doubt! It has been indorsed by C. Peter Wagner, Don Atkins, and John J. Eckhardt who states: “We need a reformation in the area of eschatology, and I believe Harold Eberle and Martin Trench’s new book is a step in that direction. It gives a clear understanding of the Olivet Discourse and corrects present teaching that has taken the words of Jesus out of context. Victorious Eschatology will help shift your paradigm concerning the end times, and I highly recommend it as a foundational book in the present reformation.” Well, I can tell you, this “present reformation” is doing much more than just taking Jesus’ words out of context, it presents another Jesus altogether.