PRI Articles

New Debate in Bend, Oregon

Re-Thinking End Times
November 9th & 10th, 2013

Shilo Inn
Bend, Oregon

Harold Eberle of www.worldcastministries.com vs. Don K. Preston of www.eschatology.org

 

This will be a two day, "Panel Discussion" and promises to be a wonderful time of learning and fellowship, so come be with us!

Sam Frost Withdraws From The Debate With Don K. Preston

Sam Frost was once an active advocate of Covenant Eschatology. However, he abandoned that view. A little over a year ago, Sam challenged me to debate him, insisting that there was a tremendous amount of interest in such a debate, and assuring me that he was ready to refute Covenant Eschatology. He even posted “An Open Letter To Don Preston” on FaceBook, and the response to his challenge was very positive.  See my own original response to Sam’s challenge here.

Read more: Sam Frost Withdraws From The Debate With Don K. Preston

Joel McDurmon, Dominionism and the Sabbath

Joel McDurmon, Dominionism and the Sabbath
Don K. Preston D. Div. 

In my formal debate with Joel McDurmon of American Vision (July 19-21, 2012), in my first affirmative presentation, I took note of the critical, but mostly overlooked, importance of the Sabbath to the study of eschatology.

I proved that the Sabbath was a distinctively covenantal sign between God and Israel, a sign both of creation and of deliverance from Egyptian bondage and death. (Exodus 31; Deuteronomy 5). (DVDs and MP3s of the debate will be available from this website very shortly).

Not only was the Sabbath a covenantal sign between YHVH and Israel, it was a prophetic foreshadowing of the end of the millennium (final) salvation and resurrection.

My argument then was that Jesus said not one jot or one tittle would pass from Torah, the Law of Moses, until it was all completely accomplished, brought to reality (Matthew 5:17-18). (See my new book, From Torah To Telos, The Passing of the Law of Moses, for an extensive exegesis of Matthew 5:17-18). This means that until what the Sabbath foreshadowed came into reality, i.e. until the end of the millennium resurrection was fulfilled, not one jot or one tittle of the Law of Moses would pass away.

McDurmon initially ignored this argument, so I repeated it and pressed it. He then admitted that he believes that  the Sabbath, with its ceremonial ordinances, i.e the sacrifices and observance of the seventh day, have passed away. However, of course, per Joel, the end of the millennium resurrection has not come to reality.

The reader simply must catch the power of the Sabbath issue. (In my planned series of books on the passing of the Law of Moses, I have plans to produce one volume strictly to this incredibly important issue).

Joel, and virtually all Dominionists (postmillennialists), hold to the similar view on the Sabbath. In fact, I documented in a chart how Bahnsen, Gentry, DeMar all agree that the Sabbath foreshadowed the end of the millennium resurrection. Likewise, they all affirm that the seventh day Sabbath has been annulled, along with all of its ceremonial, cultic ministrations. Yet, they all say that what the Sabbath foreshadowed– the consummation of God’s eschatological scheme– has not been fulfilled! Do you see the problem? It is huge. It is insurmountable. It is fatal to the Dominionist paradigm.

I once again took note of Jesus’ words that not one iota of Torah would pass until it was ALL– not some, not even most– but until it was ALL fulfilled, came to reality. Joel’s response was nothing less than desperate and revealing.

Joel responded by noting that the word “all” does not always mean “all.” He appealed to Joshua 21:43-45 where it says that all of God’s land promises to Israel had been fulfilled, and claiming that the Messianic promises had not yet been fulfilled. All in Joshua is limited, therefore, he implied, all in Matthew 5 must be limited, and thus proclaiming that he had nullified my argument on Matthew 5.

Of course, no one denies that context can limit the meaning of “all.” However, I produced a chart with the following quote from Greg Bahnsen (One of McDurmon’s mentors):
“A verse like Matthew 5:18, with its unparticularized panta (translated as “all” DKP) is prey for such treatment… Nothing in the context or vocabulary of Matthew 5:18 warrants the induction of speculative meaning; a phrase as colorless and abstract as panta should not be particularized, personalized, and steered into this theological preconception. .... Page 83— “In Matthew 5:18 the commencement of the law’s passing away is made dependent upon panta genetai. Panta, when used without an article or preposition indicates “all things, everything.” It is to be taken in this absolutely general sense unless the context dictates some antecedent whole of which panta constitutes the complete parts.” (Theonomy, 83, my emp). (McDurmon totally ignored the chart and the quote).

The next night, I took note of Joel’s disturbing hermeneutic. By appealing to Joshua to redefine Matthew 5 Joel was guilty of an illegitimate transfer of context. Joshua was not talking about what Matthew 5 was talking about. To impose one context on another context, when the subject matter is totally different in the two texts, is clearly wrong.

I likewise took note that Joel’s hermeneutic would destroy the meaning of all in all (pun intended) contexts! In other words, if Joshua 21 defines “all” as a limited “all” in Matthew 5, then why doesn’t the “all” in Joshua limit the definition of “all” in “all” (comprehensively speaking) texts? This is so patently untenable as to be unthinkable, and, of course, Joel would never accept it. However, he could never justify why the “all” in Joshua demanded a limited “all” in Matthew. He never gave a word of justification other than seeking to imply that Joshua limited Matthew. This kind of specious, arbitrary hermeneutic is very, very revealing.

Very clearly, there is no contextual qualifier in Matthew 5 that limits, in any way whatsoever, the definition of “all.”  Thus, per Bahnsen’s excellent analysis, all in Matthew 5 must mean, well, ALL!

(In another article, we will share Joel’s disingenuous attempt to negate the force of Jesus’ use of genetai, translated as “fulfilled” in Matthew 5:18).

Here then, was, and is, my argument:


Jesus said that not one jot or one tittle would pass from the Law of Moses until it was all fully accomplished.


The Sabbath– an integral part of the Law of Moses– foreshadowed the end of the millennium resurrection.


Therefore  until the end of the millennium resurrection is fulfilled, comes into reality, not one single iota of the Law of Moses– and specifically the observance of the ceremonial, cultic, sacrificial seventh day Sabbath– can or will pass away!

 

Joel’s futurist eschatology (in fact, all futurist eschatologies) demands the continuance of the seventh day Sabbath!

I asked the audience (and of course, Joel) at least twice, to consider what Joel was saying. By taking the position that he does, Joel turns Jesus’ teaching 180% out. Jesus said, “not one jot or one tittle  will pass from the law until it is all fulfilled.” Joel, and all futurists, say that what Jesus really meant was: “Some jots and tittles of the Law, for instance the seventh day Sabbath, will pass from the law without being fulfilled at all!”

I posed the following question to Joel and the audience: Would anyone ever get Joel’s interpretation of Matthew 5:17-18 from Jesus’ words? Would they ever get from, “Not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law until it is all fulfilled” that it actually means: “Some jots and tittles of the Law will pass without being fulfilled”? Joel never offered a single word in response to this question.

I want the reader to let that soak in.

Some years ago, (1997) David Chilton gave a speech in Oklahoma City, presenting his reasons for becoming a full preterist. He took note that Dominionists commonly appeal– as Bahnsen, Gary North and even Joel McDurmon– to Matthew 5:17-18 to prove the eternal validity of the Law of Moses.  But, as Chilton noted, the very verse that they appeal to for their doctrine is in fact a total refutation of their doctrine!

Chilton demonstrated exegetically and logically, that Matthew 5:17-18 emphatically says that not one iota of Torah– which includes the sacrificial system– would pass until it was all fulfilled. Yet, all Dominionists say that lots and lots of jots and tittles of the Law of Moses have passed away, without being fulfilled! Those jots and tittles of the, “New Moons, feast days and Sabbaths” were“purged”, removed and annulled, without ever being fulfilled! (The lectureship containing Chilton’s speech is available from me. Contact me through this site).

In reality, in one very real sense, nothing else that Joel McDurmon said in the debate really matters.  It is impossible, logically, to affirm the passing of the seventh day Sabbath without thereby demanding the fulfillment of the end of the millennium resurrection– the fulfillment of “final salvation”-- the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant promises Joel says that the seventh day Sabbath has passed, but, that what the Sabbath foreshadowed has not come to reality. The shadow has not become reality. The shadow simply passed away. There can be no reconciliation between Dominionist theology and Jesus’ words.

There could not be a clearer rejection of the words of Jesus than the futurist eschatology of postmillennial Dominionism.

Joel McDurmon on Luke 21:22

Joel McDurmon on Luke 21:22
Don K. Preston D. Div.

In the McDurmon -V- Preston debate, July 19-21, 2012, Joel McDurmon clearly anticipated that I would appeal to Luke 21:22 where Jesus, describing the impending destruction of Jerusalem, said “These be the days of vengeance, in which all things that are written must be fulfilled.”

McDurmon, it seems, thought he would “cut me off at the pass” by thinking that this would be a foundational argument for me. So, he thought he would derail my argument by addressing it before I did. (While I clearly do think that Luke 21:22 is incredibly powerful, I did not appeal to it during the debate, and had no plans to do so).

Joel made the following argument: If Preston argues that all things were to be fulfilled in AD 70, then the virgin birth, the establishing of the church, etc. all happened then, and that is patently false. Those things were all fulfilled long before AD 70.

So, Joel posited an “everything is fulfilled at one time, and none before that time” hermeneutic of prophetic fulfillment.

I must confess that I am always somewhat taken back by such an illogical argument. The argument is argument is not new. I have heard it before, and it is specious to say the least.

This argument reveals one of several possibilities:
A.) Pure desperation on the part of McDurmon,
B.) An attempt at obfuscation of the real issues at stake,
C.) A total misunderstanding of the true preterist position.
D.) Undeniably, a misunderstanding of what Jesus said.

Note: Kenneth Gentry recently wrote an article in which he clearly thought he had made a major blow against the true preterist theology. I wrote a response to Gentry and that can be found here.

Let me say this: Joel is a good man, and a good student of scripture and logic. I do not believe for a moment that he would actually, on calm reflection, espouse this concept of “everything is fulfilled at one time, and none before that time.” (Of course, I could  not believe that Gentry would write what he did on Luke 21 either)!

Since I did not have time to deal with Joel’s “argument.” during the debate let me offer some thoughts on it here.

Jesus was not saying that all prophecies would be fulfilled at the moment of– and none any time prior to- AD 70. I have never read, or heard, of a single preterist ever making that argument.

What Jesus was saying is that the process of fulfillment of the last days events would be finalized and perfected in AD 70. In my view, that process began with the birth of Jesus and continued through the appearance of John the Baptizer, (the law and the prophets were until John...) until the consummation “when all things that are written must be fulfilled.”

There was an appointed time (Greek kairos, appointed time) for the fulfillment of the eschatological scheme, and that was “the stewardship of the fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:9-10). Paul was emphatic that the “fullness of time” was the last days of the Old Covenant Age of Israel (Galatians 4:4).

I took note of Ephesians 1:9-10 and Galatians 4 several times in the debate, as well as Acts 3:23f where Peter affirmed that all of the OT prophets who spoke of the “restoration of all things” “spoke of these days” – i.e. Peter’s first century days. McDurmon never said a word in response to these arguments. (To be fair, perhaps it was an issue of short time. That is always a huge problem for each man in a formal debate)!

As Hendrickson succinctly notes, “As Jesus was speaking, (In Matthew 5:17-18, DKP) some parts of the Old Testament had already been fulfilled, for example, the incarnation. Other parts were being fulfilled. Still others were to be fulfilled soon, that is, the crucifixion and the resurrection; or were to be fulfilled later, in the ascension, at and after Pentecost, and finally at Christ’s return in glory” (William Hendrickson, New International Commentary, Matthew, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 2002)291).

Of course, Hendrickson clearly overlooks the power of Luke 21:22 refusing to connect Jesus’ prediction of his coming (Luke 21:25f) with the end of the Old Covenant age. But the point he is making that there was a process of fulfillment that began with the incarnation and that would be perfected, culminated, at the end is spot on.

The bottom line is that in truth, McDurmon realizes that the process of fulfillment began before AD 70. Furthermore, he believes, we assume, that “all things that are written must be fulfilled” even in his paradigm, at the end of the millennium resurrection. With that in mind, consider this.

The end of the millennium resurrection is when “all things that are written must be fulfilled” - McDurmon.
But, if all things that are written must be fulfilled all at one time, at the end of the millennium resurrection, then the virgin birth and Jesus’ incarnation, his passion and resurrection do not take place until the end of the millennium resurrection!

Now, McDurmon would patently and correctly reject this “logic” and argument as specious and false to the core. He would argue that there was a process of fulfillment consummating in the end of the millennium resurrection.

So, McDurmon realizes that there is (was) a process of fulfillment, consummating and climaxing in the resurrection. It was, therefore, undeniably specious for him to argue that if “all things written must be fulfilled” applied to AD 70, that this demanded the virgin birth was fulfilled then.

Do you catch the power of Joel’s illogical argument? His “all at one time, and none before” argument destroys his own theology!

If his argument applied to AD 70 then it undeniably applies to his futuristic end of the millennium resurrection. But, if his “logic” is true, and all things are fulfilled at the same time, and none before that time– then Jesus has not even been born, he never lived on earth in fulfillment of the OT prophecies. He never experienced the Cross and was not raised from the dead, in fulfillment of OT prophecy. The church was never established in fulfillment of OT prophecy. Etc, etc, etc., etc.!

You  see, Joel’s “all fulfilled at the same time and none before that time” hermeneutic logically denies the entire story of fulfillment recorded in the NT. Since nothing can be fulfilled until the consummation, and the consummation is somewhere, perhaps countless years in the future, then not one prophecy has been fulfilled yet!

Just as Gentry had clearly not thought through the implications of his article attacking the true preterist view, it should be more than obvious that Joel had not given a lot of careful, analytical thought to his “argument” on Luke 21:22.

Feedback on the McDurmon -V- Preston Debate

Well, feedback is beginnning to pour in about the just completed formal debate between Joel McDurmon and Don K. Preston, held July 19-21 at the Annual Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, in Ardmore Oklahoma.

I will begin sharing some of the feedback as it continues to come in.

Let it be noted that Joel was gracious and that the debate was on a very high level. I appreciate Joel for this, and for his willingness to come to Ardmore. He has likewise expressed his appreciation for the hospitality extended to him by everyone at the conference.

Naturally, over on the Sovereign Grace website, they are proclaiming victory, and that I ignored Joel's arguments. The record will show that this simply is not true. What is undeniably true is that Joel did ignore my foundational arguments, and was guilty of some major self contradictions. In the comng weeks and months, we will be re-visiting some of those arguments, and examing Joel's hermeneutic and arguments. I think you will find it fascinatiing and enlightening.

 

In the meantime, here is one email I received from Ed Steven's of International Preterist Association, and his take on the debate:

<Just a note to say that the debate and conference was excellent. I don’t see how any of it could have been better. It was helpful for the whole Full Preterist movement. You defended our cause perfectly. All of us can feel good about the view after the gentlemanly and scholarly way in which you defended it. Well done! All that preparation beforehand really showed up in the debate. You repeatedly far outshined McDurmon, not only in your understanding of his view, but even more in your critically deconstructing it and exposing its inconsistencies, self-contradictions, and logical fallacies. Get some well-deserved rest!  :-)  Appreciate you, brother! Excellent job!>


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