item2a

The Apocalypse Code, by Hank Hanegraff

I highly respect Hank Hanegraff, and my bookshelf is lined with his books. If Hank speaks, I listen. In this case, while I think his principles for interpreting end-times passages are something every Christian should take to heart, I feel that his treatment of the subject matter was overly narrow to the point of undermining his point.

If you take ONLY the passages Hanegraff discusses, then this is a powerful presentation for the fulfillment of Jesus' Matthew 24 prophecy with the destruction of the Jewish temple in the first century. But there are internal contradictions and huge omissions that ruin the book for me.

Hanegraff criticizes futurists, for example, for placing a 2000-year gap between the disciples' question in Matthew 24:2 and Jesus' answer in verse three. This is a legitimate point. However, he then argues that the destruction of the temple was the fulfillment of Matthew 24:31 but ignores the "end of the world" context from there to the end of the chapter. Was Matthew 24:32 ff. fulfilled in the first century? If so, how does it fit the historical context? Is its fulfillment yet future? If so, how does Hank get there from v. 31? He never says.

Hank also relies heavily — if not exclusively — on Old Testament referents to interpret Jesus' words about his "coming on the clouds" in Matthew 24:30-31. Again, a good point. Yet, he ignores the fact that that Paul uses identical language to describe Jesus' Second Coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, which Hanegraff does not believe occurred in the first century. Moreover, Hanegraff never addresses the apparent contradiction that Jesus' language in this passage is concrete, not apocalyptic, and inserting an apocalyptic interpretation into a concrete passage violates Hanegraff's own rules of scriptural synergy.

Hanegraff also addresses the letters to the churches and the visions in Revelation, but he omits discussion of the seals, trumpets, and bowls. He seems to believe that they are part of the trifold judgment on Jerusalem, but he never discusses how the fulfillment of even one of them can be explained. And he does seem to believe that the description in Revelation 19 is describing the end of the world, but since he seems to believe everything else relates to the first century, on what basis does he get there? Again, he allows the same kind of 2000-year jump for which he criticizes futurists.

Hank bases his partial preterist argument on a pre-A.D. 70 date for the writing of Revelation. His argument is founded, in part, on the fact that if the destruction of the temple had occurred before its writing, why didn't John mention it? If this is the logic, then it raises the correspondingly legitimate question: If the A.D. 70 destruction of the temple was widely understood to be the fulfillment of many end-times prophecies, why were the first and second century church fathers still looking for a future tribulation and future Antichrist? This is not a long span of time. These are questions Hanegraff simply never addresses.

As a result, the book fell flat for me. For serious students of the end times, it does make some very good points, but for those looking for the answer to the end-times puzzle, this book creates more questions than answers. For Strong Tower Publishing readers, however, I would recommend this as a good addition to your end-times bookshelf simply as a good presentation of the partial preterist view from a well-respected name in biblical apologetics. But due to its limitations, it's not going to be the only preterist resource you'll want to have.

Strong Tower Publishing • P. O. Box 973 • Milesburg, PA • 16863 • (814) 206-6778 • strongtowerpubs@aol.com