You are hereGive Me This Mountain (a review)
Give Me This Mountain (a review)
“Now for the first time the founding story of fulfilled Bible prophecy is told. From its roots seventy years ago in West Virginia to its breakthroughs in biblical renewal today – all across the world”.That is the first two sentences from the back cover of the Tim King book, “Give Me This Mountain”, a 195 page light reading. The book is a casual look at the development of Max King’s eschatological perspective and how that perspective has influenced what many now know as “preterism”.
Please allow me to give some background on the people involved in this book and review.
Roderick Edwards – That’s me. I’ve been a Preterist since 2001 and have been a columnist for PlanetPreterist.com since 2002.
Max King – Pastored several Church of Christ congregations since the 1950s but is best known for his eschatological (preterist) perspective, first expressed in the early 1970s. (See the book, The Spirit of Prophecy)
Tim King – A son of Max King and also had pastored in the Church of Christ, but is best known for taking the helm of Presence Ministries Int’l & developing the “Transmillenial™” perspective. Tim King is also the author of the book under consideration – “Give Me This Mountain”.
At first, I was resistant to the proposal on the back cover of the book. I mean the book seemed to be crediting Max King with the “founding” of the fulfilled Bible prophecy perspective. But then I weighed my hesitation with some other factors.
1) The author of the book is the son of Max King and to Tim King who was there as his father appeared to be the only man proposing this perspective it must seem like Max King “founded” this view.
2) We credit people throughout history as “founding” something although they were merely substantial contributors. Take for example how we say Christopher Columbus founded America when he had never actually set foot on main land North America much less even realized he was in America. Also consider theologians such as Martin Luther who we often credit with first espousing “justification by faith alone” even though others preceded him by hundreds if not thousands of years in espousing this seemingly obvious biblical perspective. And also consider John Calvin from whom the term “Calvinism” is applied. Calvin was not even present (he was dead) at the “founding” of the so-called TULIP (five point) response to the Arminian proposition as delivered at the Synod of Dordrecht 1618-19.
So, taking those thoughts into consideration and admitting to myself that indeed Max King did pioneer many of the elements of so-called modern day preterism I was able to get over this hesitation.
The book itself is both an introduction and a memorial. It will introduce the reader to the movement Max King brought about and at the same time I believe it is a loving memorial by a son to his father.
The book is not very clear as to how Max King actually came to the fulfilled Bible prophecy view. It appears that somewhere in the late 1950s as King was pastoring in a Pensboro, West Virginia church “Max became determined to understand the Book of Revelation as thoroughly as possible”. “The more he studied, the more convinced he became that John’s revelation was indeed fulfilled.” As he studied the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Daniel “he was seeing things he didn’t want to see – things that concerned him and seemed unmentionable even to [his wife], let alone anyone outside the family”.(1)
I’m curious if Max King had read any commentaries that may have influenced him in this direction. The Bible should be its own clear witness to the validity of this view but I keep thinking back to Martin Luther who was influenced by Augustine and even later by exposure to John Huss. I don’t recall reading that Max King had even read J.S. Russell’s “The Parousia” first published anonymously in 1878, nor should I expect Russell’s book was influential as the decades marched on to the dispensational fervor of the 1970s climax of Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth”. Max King would first publicly express his conclusion about fulfilled Bible prophecy in a 1971 book he authored called “The Spirit of Prophecy”, from this point on life would never be the same in the King family.
Tim King recounts some rather painful memories with which we can only scarcely relate. Tim King writes: “From the mid- to the late `60s, Max began to share with the congregation what he saw unfolding in the Scriptures.”(2) “The church of the late `60s and early `70s was not the most open place for new ideas.” “All throughout the Ohio Valley and into West Virginia word spread that Max King was teaching ‘heresy’. Soon a preachers’ meeting was convened and some of the brotherhood leaders were brought in to discuss, debate and squelch these new ideas.”(3) But during this process which eventually lead to other Church of Christ congregations “disfellowshipping” with King’s congregation, Terry Hall (now a prominent preterist pastor) stood by and supported Max King.
Tim King is able to insert just the right amount of humor into the book so as not to make it sound like a bitter book of martyrdom and persecution. Tim King says, “It has become a family joke that we were so ostracized a family reunion for us was called ‘dinner’.”(4) King goes on to tell how when he was 12 years old at a church camp, some of the fellow campers made certain everyone else knew why they should not associate with the King family; “I mean, the last thing we can have at a camp for 12-year olds is a heretic! I was always leery of the campfire…”(5)
The book details some initial debates in which Max King participated but it seems the most effective influence that the King family would have is simply living out their lives in the fulfilled Bible prophecy perspective before the world.
I find it interesting how Tim King recounts how Max King’s qualifications were questioned by his own denomination. I mean, here is a man that had been a pastor for over 25 years; a man who was simply using the Scriptures to present his case but now the Bible wasn’t enough for his critics. Faced with this accusation, Max King took up studying every so-called eschatological scholar he could. During his studies Max King was “stunned at how many writers were content to say that Jesus or Paul or both were wrong.”(6) After his survey of the scholars, Max King would again write a book about fulfilled Bible prophecy, (The Cross and the Parousia of Christ – 1987) this time the accusation wasn’t that Max was being too rudimental but now it was that the book was too hard to understand.
The next highlight of the book comes when it discusses the meeting at Mount Dora, Florida in 1993. This was a meeting between Max King and R.C. Sproul. From the book, it seems like there was good reason to believe that inroads were being made but that those inroads were cut off by some unnamed “opportunist” that pushed the “preterist” view with too much zeal. I hope to write an article exploring the “roots” of the preterist movement.
The remainder of the book relates the focus of the Presence movement which is more “transformation” rather than “reformation”. In my opinion, this is an admirable focus.
As one who studies the Reformation I have come to the conclusion that they (the Reformers) were afraid to go the distance needed and instead did exactly what the word “reformation” means; they RE-formulated (or reconstituted) old concepts to fit their new paradigm. From this we now have individual pastors acting like mini-popes of their own personal “Romes”. From this we now have 34,000+ fragments of the “Church”, not that diversification is a bad thing but that disunity is a bad thing.
It is exciting to see how what many of us simply call “preterism” (which is becoming more and more like a Doctrines of Grace adherent using the dreaded “C” word) is impacting the world. It is exciting to read Tim King recall his visits with interesting people from around the world; Dr. Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Christian from East Jerusalem; Dr. Ernest Martin, author of The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot; Tom Getman, head of World Vision’s bureau in Jerusalem until 2002; Dr. Harvey Cox, a leading professor at Harvard Divinity School; N.T. Wright, Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey and author of Jesus and the Victory of God.
I highly recommend that Christians and especially those calling themselves preterists read Give Me This Mountain by Tim King. I believe that even if you disagree with certain aspects of Presence Ministries or Tranmillennialism™, you will come away from this book yearning to live out the fulfilled Bible prophecy view in a more tangible way.
1. Give Me This Mountain, pg 21
2. pg 26
3. pg 28
4. pg 30
5. pg 32
6. pg 49
The website for Presence Ministries is: www.presence.tv