You are hereInterview with Tim King, President of Presence Ministries
Interview with Tim King, President of Presence Ministries
Several months ago, while in the process of planning the TruthVoice 2004 conference, our board decided to invite Tim King, the president of Presence Ministries to be the keynote speaker for the conference. Little did we realize the firestorm our decision was to create. E-mails have been floating around mischaracterizing Tim's doctrine and theology, and outright slandering his character, so we decided that a one-on-one interview with Tim would be the best way to know the man, his ministry and his vision. Let's also hear his side of the story...Virgil: Tim, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I know you are a busy individual, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions for the readers of our website, and the attendees of the TruthVoice 2004 conference. Hopefully this will dispel some of the misrepresentations, and sometimes outright lies concerning you that we have come across.
Tim: It is my pleasure, Virgil. And I am grateful to you and the heart you have toward getting the message of fulfilled prophecy out to the world. Interviews are often helpful tools because of a principle written about in the Wisdom Literature: “Each man seems right until his neighbor comes along and questions him” (Proverbs 18:17). In this light I appreciate the opportunity to clarify some things that may be of interest to our movement at large and to question some of the inaccurate things that are causing division.
Virgil: I know that Presence Ministries International is a ministry dedicated to furthering the truth of Scripture, and making people aware of the “living presence” of Christ. In general terms, so are most preterists. Are “Transmillennialism” and “preterism” really incompatible positions? Are you not in fact also a “preterist”?
Tim: There is a bit of irony in the way you worded your question. If I say, “yes, I am a preterist,” then am I part of “most” of the preterist community that is making people aware of the “living presence” of Christ or the other part of the preterist community that is not? I think your word “most” is an interesting, and accurate choice of words. Clearly, there are many ‘degrees’ of preterist thought—some of which brings the fullness of Christ and his kingdom to reality now, some that postpones some or even much of that living presence for the future dimension (i.e., post-physical existence). Perhaps I can answer your question this way: my theology, which I call Covenant Eschatology, is a preterist view of Scripture. The term “preterist” means “past” or “fulfilled.” I read once on your site where someone misquoted me as saying that preterism was not even invented until the mid-90’s. What I said was, that preterism as it has come to be known today was not even defined until the 90’s. In other words, a preterist view of Scripture has existed for hundreds of years. However, the idea of full, partial, hyper, consistent, IBD (incorruptible body at death) versus IBD (immortal body at death), was never a discussion until the last part of the 20th century. This has created a situation of confusion where one may no longer say, “I’m a preterist,” without then going through a litany of discussion about just what type or flavor of preterist he is. A word that comes to mean “many” things eventually comes to mean little or nothing at all.
So you ask, am I a preterist? The only way I can answer this is to say that my theology is preterist, believing that the restoration of all things, Acts 3:21, is past. In THAT sense, yes, I hold to a preterist view of Scripture and, therefore, preterism and Transmillennialism are not at all incompatible. But I would also like to add that the Transmillennial view is a developing worldview…not just a theological position.
Virgil: So are you and Presence Ministries working against preterism, or do you think the two positions compliment each other?
Tim: Presence Ministries is not working “against” anything. Whether individually or as a ministry, each of us has to make a decision on how we approach our understanding of truth and then how we are going to communicate it. The board of PMI has made a conscious decision that we will have a “contribution” versus “conversion” mentality. What we mean by this is that when one takes a conversionist approach to a subject, it only serves to draw lines and it tells those with whom we disagree that we are right and believe that they are wrong. In essence, this repels dialogue versus building it. Our aim is to “contribute” to the lives of others by positively putting forth the truth as we see it. We don’t debate. We don’t get on message boards and argue. We choose instead to keep our shoulder to the plow and with the mind and heart of Christ, continue to put out the truth as we see it. If others disagree, that is okay…out theology does not demand that anyone else believe it. We can only control ourselves, not others. Therefore, we seek to build up, not tear down. In this we believe that we have learned from past mistakes and are dedicated to a future more in line with reflecting the heart of God as we understand it. Many “preterists” (choose your definition) are doing good work in contributing to the discussion regarding fulfilled prophecy and we applaud their efforts.
Virgil: Some “leaders” in the preterist camp have been asserting that you are a universalist, because of some of the aspects of Comprehensive Grace. Well, I should ask you plainly, are you a universalist? Do you subscribe to “some form” of universalism and do you believe that everyone will go to heaven after his or her physical death?
Tim: Good questions—let me take them one at a time.
You (Virgil) say: “Some ‘leaders’ in the preterist camp have been asserting that you are a universalist, because of some of the aspects of Comprehensive Grace.”
Let me (Tim) respond to this up front. I challenge those ‘leaders’ to find where I have ever said that I am a universalist either in print form or oral lecture. Where is the proof? If they cannot find it, and they cannot, for I have never said this, then they should repent for their misrepresentation. Not only have I never said I am a universalist, I have written about why I am NOT.
One humorous story might help make the point as to how irrational some are in trying to keep others from walking with us. When first investigating the field of fulfilled prophecy, one person was told by another ministry leader that I was a universalist and an annihilationist—it made them wonder, if I’m a universalist, then who’s left to be annihilated?! It didn’t take them long to see through the person who was laying out the divisive line about our ministry. I’m happy to say that person is now a monthly supporter…as for the ministry leader? Well, let’s just say that he’s still using that line and hasn’t figured out the contradiction yet.
You (Virgil) ask: “Well, I should ask you plainly, are you a universalist?”
(Tim) No, I am not. I abhor the entire universalist position. If I may, let me share a written quote from my article entitled, Comprehensive Grace, an article where much has been quoted out of context. “A great problem with the modern Universalist movement is its low view or marginalizing of Christ and scripture regarding the salvation of mankind. Typically, those espousing universal salvation do so apart from the covenantal framework of biblical eschatology. This breech creates a void that does irreparable damage to the Christ story and relies more on philosophical presupposition than inspired prophetic fulfillment, not to mention that it approaches the entirety of the issue of salvation from a modern, Western perspective.” (End quote)
Note that I address a “great problem” with the universalist position and that I clearly put forth an argument against it saying that it takes a “low view” and even “marginalizes” the work of Christ. In this light, for someone to apply the universalist tag to me is at best irresponsible and at worst “sowing discord among brethren” (listed as an abomination to God: Proverbs 6:16-19). Why would somebody do that? What gain do they receive by misrepresenting me in this way? What motives are at work?—certainly these are all interesting questions to be raised.
You (Virgil) ask: “Do you subscribe to “some form” of universalism and do you believe that everyone will go to heaven after his or her physical death?”
(Tim) No, I do not subscribe to “some form” of universalism. I believe that each person will stand before God and I’m quite sure He will continue to deal with them according to his eternal nature—In further answering this, again allow me to share another quote from my article:
“The impetus of the Comprehensive Grace position is to neither lend credence to the limited salvation of humanity as held by many fundamentalist evangelicals nor to open the door to the religious relativism held by so many teaching universal salvation. Instead, proponents of Comprehensive Grace seek to re-frame the entire issue of salvation by placing it back into its first-century, covenantal setting…
Proponents of Comprehensive Grace are content to leave the judging of individuals to God for he alone has the knowledge of good and evil and he alone understands all that is needed to prepare the way for his holy and righteous love…
For adherents of Comprehensive Grace the message of the greatest story ever told is about inspiring others to know and fall in love with God – not to spend a lifetime trying to avoid the fate of eternal torment. The thrust of scripture is to be compelled by God’s love (2 Cor. 5:14), not religions fear. The call is for the creation to find abundant life by aligning itself with the universal spiritual teachings of the Creator, to find freedom, love and acceptance by living for God in living for the building up of humanity. In essence, the call of those embracing Comprehensive Grace is to bring the world to its knees by being Christ to the world.” (End quote)
I have never made the statement that everyone who has ever lived will, has been or is saved. My quote above is clear—God and God alone knows the hearts of man and his intentions for dealing with them. Our job is to share his abundant love with the world. It seems odd that so many would find this offensive and seek to label it as universalism or some form of universalism.
Virgil: So then, do you feel any need and obligation to explain what Comprehensive Grace is?
Tim: This is something that is as broad as the issue of what covenant fulfillment means. I’ve only written one article on this subject, and its certainly impossible to do it justice in just one article, but we plan on putting together a DVD series on it in the near future. Perhaps then people will have a greater grasp of what we’re saying and what we’re not.
Virgil: When should we expect Max King’s work on Comprehensive Grace to be completed?
Tim: His work is actually focusing on Romans 9-11. He’ll be doing this by taking an overarching approach to the entire Book of Romans. This will go a long way in helping set the table for a greater perspective on the efficacy of the cross event. We’re hoping that it is published by this time next year, but, as always, the goal is to get it right versus getting it quickly.
Virgil: The theme of the TruthVoice 2004 conference is, “The Road Ahead.” What can attendees expect to learn from you on this topic, and generally on how Covenant Eschatology affects our lives and future?
Tim: I’m very excited about the conference you have put together and am honored to be one of its participants. I hope to use my allotted time to identify where we are, how we have arrived at this point and then how we must move forward. To do this, we will look at the time of Jesus, the futures he faced and then compare them to our day and the future scenarios that we are facing. If we’re going to navigate the road ahead by utilizing the fulfilled truth of the greatest story ever told, then we must understand the four entities that make the world go round and learn to lead with love and not dogma—to create an up-stream versus side-stream life and ministry. As well, we’ll talk about worldviews and what type of worldview holds the most hope for transforming the world of the 21st century. As I look at your lineup of speakers I know that TruthVoice 2004 should be very enlightening and I hope many people make the effort to attend.
Virgil: Tim, thank you for your time, do you have any other comments?
Tim: I guess my final comment would be to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to respond to some of the inaccuracies being spread. I think this interview format is an excellent way to work toward harmony and understanding. I would also say that I would welcome more of this in the future to further explain things about Presence Ministries, Max, or myself in general. Understanding each other builds bridges. Buying into unchallenged stories we sometimes tell ourselves (or allow others to tell us) about others burns them down. There are too few of us not to be walking together. For 2000 years the world has suffered at the hands of sectarianism, we can’t afford to continue the same much longer.
Thank you, Virgil—you’re doing a great work!