American Vision Accuses Ray Comfort of Incompetence and Dishonesty

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Joel McDurmon of the Preterist organization American Vision recently produced a hit piece against the evangelist Ray Comfort, which at the time this article was published could be found here.  McDurmon was criticizing the latest Comfort produced movie entitled, “Noah and the Last Days.”  American Vision’s president Gary Demar often begins his criticism of other theological positions with scathing language and several ad hominems (I have been on the receiving end of a few).  Apparently this is something that his employee has adopted as well.  Early in McDurmon’s article he says:

The enormity and nature of the errors committed in Comfort’s little film are beyond mere error. These are verging on conscious dishonesty, if not already there. And all in the name of the Gospel.

“Noah and the Last Days” does indeed speculate that we are living in the last generation before the Lord’s return.  However, the primary purpose is to engage people in conversation so that a solid presentation of the Gospel may be given.  Whatever your eschatological position may be, it’s a shame to refer to a movie concerned with sharing the Gospel as a, “little film.”  And it’s even more striking to see McDurmon accusing his brother in Christ of conscious dishonesty.  McDurmon continues:

There will be some of you who get upset with me for accusing Ray Comfort of dishonesty. I’ll admit it sounds harsh. But read on, and I will show you there is no other explanation short of a cavalier sloppiness with the text that would disqualify anyone from being a public teacher of Scripture.

And this is where the nonsense begins. Again, this is not just about my disagreement with Comfort. It is about exegesis so outlandish it can only be explained by total incompetence or some level of dishonesty.

These are indeed strong accusations to make against a tireless and humble servant of God.  The purpose of Apple Eye is not to promote controversy but to honestly examine what God has said.  Therefore, this is a fine opportunity to investigate whether or not Ray Comfort is guilty of, “cavalier sloppiness with the text that would disqualify anyone from being a public teacher of Scripture.”

Each of Joel McDurmon’s specific critiques will not be addressed here.  It is enough to identify the overarching critique that McDurmon liberally applies.  McDurmon’s primary opposition to Comfort’s treatment of the text is to claim that Jesus’ prophecy was for the very people he was addressing as opposed to the nation and believers of Jesus over time.

Comfort begins with the claim that “according to Jesus, the events surrounding the life of Noah are directly related to you.” He refers to the text where Jesus says, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:37; Luke 17:26–27). This all, of course, assumed Jesus was talking to you and not His audience…

Is it really so unreasonable to think that Jesus was talking to an audience that would not see the fulfillment of His prophecy?  A prophecy being given to Israel but then later fulfilled in a future generation is actually quite common in Scripture, and passages can be provided that even a Preterist could not deny.  For example, Isaiah 7:14:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  (ESV)

This prophecy was given as a sign to Ahaz and did have some level of application to the time in which it was written (Is. 8:1-4).  And yet, the New Testament confirms that this was ultimately fulfilled by the virgin birth of Jesus Christ 700 years later (Matt. 1:22-25).  The prophecy was not fulfilled during the time of the people that were alive when it was given.  Brother McDurmon would be wise to learn from this example.  What Jesus said in Matthew 24 and Luke 17 had some application to the people alive when He spoke. However, the prophecy will only be fulfilled when the plain meaning of the words come to pass.

Another useful example is that of Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as confirmed in John 12:14-15.  This is despite the fact that the prophecy was given to Israel 520 years earlier.  It’s understood that the prophecy was given to the nation of Israel present and future.  In other words, Israel the nation should expect this to come to pass at some point.

With these examples and patterns in mind, it is hardly sloppy of Ray Comfort to conclude that Matthew 24:37 and Luke 17:26-27 are to be fulfilled when the events being described in the Olivet Discourse actually occur instead of forcing them into 70 A.D.  Maybe, just maybe the generation that would see these prophecies fulfilled is that one which would see, “all these things” (Matt. 24:33)?  Just to be clear, the Olivet Discourse even predicts that Jesus will appear in the sky and all of the tribes of the earth will see Him and mourn (Matt. 24:30; cf. Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7).  And the Preterists at American Vision have absolutely no problem in affirming that even this happened in 70 A.D. with the judgment of Israel.  The Preterist belief is such a motivator that it leads to not only a sloppy handling of the text but a downright abuse of it in interpretations of key prophecies such as Zechariah 14. This is said to let you know where American Vision is coming from and the motive behind their over the top attack on Ray Comfort.

The deep desire to tear down other views in favor of American Vision’s brand of Preterism is so powerful that it has led McDurmon to accuse Ray Comfort of doing his work for money.  And even worse, Comfort’s Biblically based evangelistic technique is attacked.

And besides, as long as we’re talking about money-grubbing: how about charging $19.99 for a so-called “documovie,” purportedly about Noah, that runs for only 28 minutes, says very little about Noah, and spends over the last quarter of its time in classic Comfort-style, high-pressure, 1-on-1 evangelism.

As I type this there is a banner above McDurmon’s own article asking people to donate money.  Are we to conclude that McDurmon is, “money grubbing?”  I certainly would not because I understand that ministries need to raise funds to become more effective in spreading the Gospel.  And since we are on the subject, I wish more people would act as Comfort does and unashamedly tell people about the hope we have in Jesus.

Do I agree with Ray Comfort on every point he makes in, “Noah and the Last Days?” No.  But I agree with his overall message of being mindful of the coming judgment of God (whenever that may be) and futurist eschatology.  And let it be known that I deeply admire his work on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Joel McDurmon may believe that Ray Comfort should be disqualified from being a public teacher of the Word.  But thankfully, such a decision is not up to him.

Comments

  1. Nicole Kirk says:

    Since you have omitted each of Mr. McDurmon’s specific critiques (i.e. “Each of Joel McDurmon’s specific critiques will not be addressed here.”), how are we to judge for ourselves whether or not his critique is indeed an “over-the-top attack on Ray Comfort,” or “overarching,” which are merely your subjective opinions. Perhaps the objective evidence, which you have left out, would lead others to a different conclusion than yourself. You stated, “McDurmon’s primary opposition to Comfort’s treatment of the text [in Matthew 24] is to claim that Jesus’ prophecy was for the very people he was addressing as opposed to the nation and believers of Jesus [in the way distant future].” Doesn’t Mr. McDurmon’s primary opposition make rational sense since Jesus purposely declared, “Verily I say unto YOU [i.e. his disciples], “THIS [not “that”] generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled,” in Matthew 24:34? In Matthew 24:4, Jesus says, “And Jesus answered and said unto THEM [not us], ‘Take heed that no man deceive you.'” While we can glean wisdom from this statement in our own lives, it is quite clear, when read in context, Jesus is speaking directly to his disciples who were alive at that time, not to believers in the future.

    • Matthew Ervin says:

      I provided a link to McDurmon’s article. It’s up to the reader to determine if I have been fair. In Matthew 24:34 Jesus remarks, “this generation” as if to point to the one He was describing which would see, “all these things.” Think of it like a teacher pointing to an illustration he just made. This was the natural way to understand the Text for those living in the first several centuries. I challenge you to find any father in the first several centuries that interprets Matthew 24:34 as the Preterist does.
      Common sense will tell you that while the Olivet Discourse had some shadow application to 70 AD it could not have been fulfilled then. Jesus never appeared in the clouds with every tribe on the earth seeing Him (Matt. 24:30), nor did He send out His angels to gather the elect from the four winds (Matt. 24:31). I understand full well how the Preterists try and explain this. But in doing so they ignore the plain meaning of the Text.
      Note that Matthew 24:34 is synoptic with not only Zechariah 12:10 but Revelation 1:7. Revelation was written in 95-96 AD when John was exiled to Patmos under emperor Domition. Clearly John did not prophesy about a past event.
      Finally, Jesus Himself said that He didn’t know when His coming would be (Matt. 24:36). Jesus would not have said that His coming would definitely happen in the generation He was speaking to on one hand but on the other say He didn’t know when it would be. For these reasons and many more, the Preterist interpretation must be rejected out of a desire to let the Words of Scripture have any plain meaning. Spritualizing and allegorizing away the Words of God to fit a presupposition is dangerous. Please be very careful in assuming Preterist beliefs are correct before studying others carefully.
      I encourage you to read more from John MacArthur here: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/2372/could-jesus-come-today

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