PRI Articles

An Open Response to Sam Frost's Open Letter

An Open Response to Sam Frost

Sam Frost posted “An Open Letter to Don K. Preston” on his “Reign of Christ” website, and that letter has been posted on FaceBook. When I saw it, it reminded me that I had, unfortunately, forgotten to respond to Sam’s last email. Sometimes my email correspondence is all but overwhelming. My apologies to Sam for that oversight.

In his letter he shared with his readers that he and I had corresponded concerning a debate. All of which is true.

Sam left out of his letter how he had initially said that due to his own academic pursuit that he could not do the debate anytime soon, and that was fine. Scheduling is a killer. I told Sam that due to my own scheduling, I probably could not do a debate this year.

Sam notes that I demanded an honorarium to do the debate, noting of course, that he will do it free. Well, Sam has a job that pays his bills. My ministry is my job. I also noted that Joel McDurmon demanded a sizable honorarium, and Sam had no problem with that. In fact, the partial preterist world seemed to boast of Joel’s demands! But when it came to me, I am supposedly unreasonable to do the same. I have repeatedly asked Sam to explain why it was proper for Joel to demand an honorarium but, it is somehow unreasonable for Preston to do so. Sam says the question was not relevant to my demands, but of course, it is. This is a thorny issue of consistency and part of the reason I made the demand in the first place– to expose that inconsistency.

All that aside, as just noted, I had told Sam that we could not do a debate this year (2013) because I already have a debate scheduled with Steve Gregg, to be held in Denver, Co. in September. In addition, I have some other major projects in the works, and they have been in the works for a good long while. So, just like Sam could not do the debate due to being “too busy” I likewise cannot do the debate this year for the same reason. Yet, Sam tries to make it appear that I was simply making excuse of being too busy. This is unbecoming. (Jason Bradfield in his usual caustic manner, posted a response to Sam’s open letter saying: “Don Preston is a goat, who is also a chicken.” This kind of rhetoric is reprehensible, un-Christian and unscholarly, but is, unfortunately fully tolerated on RoC).

I want to let everyone know that I have posted an email to Sam yesterday (1-10-13)  stating that I am keeping my schedule for 2014 open for a debate with him, and we can proceed with negotiations.

In the meantime, John Noe has boasted that his debate prowess is far superior to mine, and has stepped forward seeking to debate Sam. So, that should be interesting, to say the least.

For His Truth, and In His Grace,

Don K. Preston

Joel McDurmon on Matthew 5:17-18 #1

Joel McDurmon on Matthew 5:17-18- #1
When Was “All” Fulfilled?
Don K. Preston D. Div.

In my recent formal debate with Joel McDurmon, July 19-21, in Ardmore, Ok., I argued from the explicit words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-18 that until every jot and tittle of the law was fulfilled, that none of it would pass. (DVDs and MP3s of the debate are now available. You definitely want to get a copy of this debate, so order your copy now!)

In response, Joel gave two totally different answers. First, he argued that “all” does not necessarily mean all comprehensively. Second, he argued that all things were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross, for He is the fulfillment of all things. I want to briefly examine Joel’s arguments, demonstrating their fallacy, as I did in the debate.

ALL DOES NOT MEAN ALL
In his attempt to discount what Jesus said about the necessity for every jot and every tittle to be fulfilled, Joel took note that the word all can be used in a limited sense. Naturally, no one disputes this claim, as I noted. But that is not the issue.

Joel gave some scriptures where the word all is used, but, in which “all” cannot be understood comprehensively. He took note that Joshua 21:43-45 says that all of God’s promises made to Israel were fulfilled. Joel noted that there were many prophecies still unfulfilled at that time, therefore, all does not mean all. Joel likewise appealed to Ezekiel and Lamentations where the word all is likewise used in a limited sense.

I did not respond immediately to Joel’s appeal to these texts, because I wanted to deal with other issues. Consequently, Joel proclaimed that I did not do so because they are fatal to my claims. He seemed to think that I had not answer. Of course, that is not the case. Time constraints do not permit response to every single word given by the other man. But I did respond, and effectively so.

I noted that Joel was guilty of an illegitimate transfer of context in his appeal to Joshua and the other texts. The subject matter in those texts was not the passing of the law, and the necessary requirements for that to happen. Joel was appealing to texts that spoke of something entirely different from what Jesus was speaking of. Thus, to impose those texts on Jesus’ statements was and is patently wrong.

I also noted that the context of those passages clearly define the “all” in view. In other words, Joshua 21 very clearly speaks of the fulfillment of the land promises. Lamentations speaks of the fulfillment of all of the predictions of the BC 586 destruction of Jerusalem. This is undeniable. In other words, the word “all” was patently not being used in a universal sense, as the context of each of the passages offered by Joel proves beyond dispute.

I should briefly note here that Joshua actually falsifies Joel’s claim that Abraham never received the land promises. God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants. Joshua said that all the land promises were fulfilled. Not a word failed. Thus, the Abrahamic land promise was fulfilled, nullifying Joel’s key resurrection argument.  But, back to the word all and Matthew 5:17-18.

In direct response to Joel, I produced a chart with the following quote from Greg Bahnsen that spoke and speaks to the issue of Matthew 5:17-18 very eloquently, and irrefutably:

“A verse like Matthew 5:18, with its unparticularized panta is prey for such treatment. Now such views might be appropriate pertaining to a verse like Matthew 24:34 from the Olivet Discourse (which reads panta tauta), but they are unjustified in Matthew 5:18; the former has a definite referent and antecedent, while the latter does not (it does not even qualify a noun adjacent to it as does Matthew 24:34). 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” (as in Matthew 11:27; John 1:3; 3:35; 21:17; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 15:27, 28; Ephesians 1:22a; Revelation 21:5); it is to be taken in this absolutely general sense unless the context dictates some antecedent whole of which panta constitutes the complete parts.” (Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy, P. 81).

Bahnsen was McDurmon’s mentor, and this quote clearly stunned Joel– and the audience. Not simply because it was from Joel’s former mentor, but because of the excellent linguistic and contextual analysis. I should also note that Joel said not one word in response to the chart.

The undeniable fact is that contrary to each of the passages that Joel offered, in which context clearly limited the “all” in view, there are no contextual qualifiers in Matthew 5:17-18. So, as Bahnsen astutely notes, where there is no qualifier, then all means all.

I challenged Joel to produce a contextual qualifier of “all” in Matthew 5, but of course, he could not do it, and no one can. It is not there. And this means that not one jot or one tittle– that alone is pretty comprehensive isn’t it?– would pass until every jot and every tittle was fulfilled. In fact, “all” is defined in the text by “not one jot or one tittle.”

(Be sure to see my new book From Torah To Telos, for a study of Matthew 5:17-18. The book is one of the most extensive studies of this text and the passing of the Law of Moses that has been produced. There is nothing else like it anywhere!)

As I noted repeatedly in the debate, since there is no limiting qualifier in the context of Matthew 5:17-18 to quantify the “all”, this means, it demands, that since Torah foretold the end of the millennium resurrection, then until the full accomplishment, the full occurrence of the end of the millennium resurrection, not one iota of Torah would pass. This means that if Joel’s eschatology is true, then the feast days, new moons, and Sabbaths of Torah– along with the sacrificial system– remains valid and binding today. This is unavoidable, and undeniable. Be sure to read my earlier article on the Sabbath issue and the inescapable and fatal problems it causes for Dominionism.

In our next article, we will examine Joel’s second attempt to deal with Jesus words in Matthew 5:17-18. That was his claim that in some manner Jesus fulfilled all prophecy in his person on the cross. As we proved in the debate, and what is critical to see, is that this argument falsified Joel’s own theology. Stay tuned for that article.

A Brief (Very Brief) Analysis of the McDurmon -V- Preston Debate

The following critique of the McDurmon -V- Preston Debate was written by William Bell, of Memphis, Tn. I thought our visitors would appreciate his comments.

 

McDurmon's Affirmative Speech
Joel McDurmon attempted to establish in his affirmative that there is a yet future terminal last day, with a limited number of elect Christians being saved after which God's "finite" redemptive program ends. We lament his efforts.


John 5:28-29
Joel starts by citing John 5:24-29. He attempts to make a temporal distinction between the imminence which he acknowledged and affirmed in verse 25:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live." Joel agreed like full preterists that this text refers to events that happened through the cross event and the 70AD parousia. He acknowledged that the time statements had to be honored.
However, he asserted that since the time statement was not repeated and by that he meant "explicitly" in verse 28, which says only "an hour is coming", that it meant the two texts are separated in time by eons and ages, rather than referring to the same event. (Preston reminded him that they did).


Joel's premise on the verse would be stated as follows:
Any eschatological context that with an explicit imminent time statement that does not repeat that time statement in every verse or has a verse which omits the "complete" verbatim time statement cannot refer to the same event.
Since verse 28, by ellipsis, did not include or repeat the entire phrase of verse 25, the two cannot speak of the same event. That would negate every time text in the scripture, including the ones he admits refers to 70AD. It is a logical fallacy.

 

<Inserted thought by Don K. Preston: Take note that in John 4:21-24 Jesus used the identical "the hour is coming" and "the hour is coming and now is" motif. The remarkable, and significant thing is that Joel would not draw a temporal contrast between those two "hours." They are one and the same hour! Yet, when he comes to John 5, even though Jesus is using the exact terminology, Joel inserts a gap of so far 2000 years between "the hour is coming and now is" and "the hour is coming." This is presuppositional theology at work. There not one word in the context of John 5 to justify such a temporal dichotomy.>


The Last Day Versus The Last Hour
McDurmon then attempted to use John 5:28-29 to affirm the last day resurrection which he asserted to be future. However, John 5:28-29 doesn't even use the term "last day" at all. Joel can find a reference to the last day which is not in the text to push this text out beyond 70 AD to a yet future time in history which he asserts will end.
On the other hand, he could not use the language in the text to harmonize the two passages (25 and 28) as referring to the same  event. How does he know that his "last day" reference did not apply to verse 25, since it is not mentioned in that text either!?!
John wasn't discussing the last day in John 5:24-29. His subject was the "last hour."  However, when the text of 1 John 2:18-19, was submitted during the Q & A session, McDurmon had tremendous difficulty addressing it.


The last hour is a much shorter time and expresses even more imminence than the last day. The logic would be the last hour of the day. (See how Jesus spoke of the last day, i.e. the [last] day of the Flood, and the [last] day of Lot when God rained fire and brimstone from heaven, (Luke 17:26-29). Jesus said his coming would be just like those events! (Luke 17:30-31).  Neither were the end of history.


Paul uses the "last hour" in that very sense per Romans 13:11-12.  He says that now it is the "hour" to awake out of sleep. That's the last hour before one gets out of bed. Why, because the night was far spent. That was the night of the last day! There was only one hour, i.e. the last hour left to go before time to rise (resurrection). That is the impact of Paul's statement.


McDurmon knew that he would have to affirm a modern reenactment and rising of the Antichrists to affirm a future last hour. He knew and admitted that John spoke of Antichrists who came in his day, i.e. the first century and that it was evidence that the last hour had arrived.
What did John say would happen in the last hour? All that were in the graves would come forth. Was McDurmon consistent? No.
Now doesn't it make sense that if the last hour of the last day had arrived in the first century, then the last day had arrived? Yet, McDurmon wanted to make John 5:28-29, a discussion of the last day when it doesn't even use the term. Why did he not use the same "last hour" arguments that John, and Paul, the Apostles used? It's because he is wedded to his reformed doctrine of limited atonement and futurism.


Partial Preterists on Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29.
What is the source of Jesus' teaching on John 5:28-29? Is it not Daniel 12:2-3? Isn't that the resurrection of the just and the unjust? Isn't it the resurrection of those who sleep in the  dust of the earth, i.e. who are dead? Wasn't their resurrection to take place in the end of the age, Matt. 13:39-40? Doesn't Joel affirm that the end of "this age" is the Jewish age which terminated in AD 70?
Gary Demar and Ken Gentry are on record that Daniel 12: 2-3, is 70 AD. So are many non-reformed Amillennialists. But Daniel 12:2-3 is John 5:28-29, Romans 13:11-2, and Acts 24:14-15 and 2 Thess. 4:1, to mention a few. Why the inconsistency. Hopefully the next time McDurmon addresses the text he can tell us why the last hour of the last day is 70AD, but the last day is yet future? How does that work?


Job 19:25-26
McDurmon spent a lot of time in his affirmative giving  a homiletical esposition of Job. It was mostly diversionary in my opinion as it didn't offer much substance to the argument he advanced.
He started the argument by agreeing that the meaning of the text was difficult and somewhat ambiguous as far as scholarship goes. Then he offers the dubious rendering of the text to affirm that Job's expectation was to stand on the earth, implying a physical resurrection in the last day "after his skin" is destroyed by saying in his flesh he would see God.


The most reasonable interpretation of the text according to research by Keil and Delitsch and other scholars is reflected in the margins of most translations, including those that render the text "in my flesh" I shall see God, is, "out of my flesh" I shall see God. In other words, Job affirms that after his skin is struck off, i.e. after his physical demise he would see God "out of his flesh" or without his flesh.


McDurmon, to his credit,  did offer several possible interpretations including that which indicated Job would be vindicated and exonerated after his suffering which we see at the end of the book. However, that interpretation doesn't support his case and it certainly doesn't negate a full preterist position. To build a case on a text as questionable and as exegetically inconclusive as Job 19:26 is both a sign of naivety and desperation.
We do not intend to suggest that McDurmon is himself naive. He is scholarly and has completed all requirements for his doctorate. However, degrees do not shield one from making bad or weak arguments.


The Elect and Limited Number Of the Saved
Perhaps the worst argumentation in the affirmative was Joel's argument (found on reign of Christ's website) in which he attempted to bulldoze his reformed doctrine of limited atonement into the last day. We've pointed out his mishandling of John 5:28-29 above.


He argued that Peter, when speaking of the last day in 2 Peter 3, wrote to the elect. Then he says the elect were those whom God would save up to a yet future ultimate last day inclusive of present history. That is blatantly false and mishandling of Scripture in the writer's opinion.


Reformed partial preterists claim as Sam Frost writes in his book, "...sola Scriptura--that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority determining Faith and practice, Why I Left Full Preterism, p. 7. Then just a few pages later, his left hand forgets what his right hand has written and says, " According to the Westiminster Confession, God's knowledge of those who are saved is a number "so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished" (III.4).


Are we to believe that Peter or any other Apostle or prophet of the Bible quoted from the Westminster Confession? The moment Full Preterism comes up, sola Scriptura must defer to "Sola Westminster Confession" by some. Where does the Bible equate the "doctrine of Christ" with "reformed church doctrine"? All we're saying is that a creedal statement is only worth its' salt if it complies with the doctrine of Christ and not the reverse, (2 John 9, 10).


The Elect of First and Second Peter
Who is the elect to whom Peter writes? He writes the second epistle to the same audience as the first, the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappodocia, Asia and Bithynia. These were first century saints of the remnant of Israel who had been scattered among the nations whom God called back to Him through the gospel of Christ.
Were first century Jews members of the reformed church? Were they adherents to the Westminster Confession?


By admitting that Peter wrote to the elect, particularly those in the first century, McDurmon once again abandons his entire affirmative and unwittingly his reformed doctrine. His premise would therefore limit salvation only to the remnant of fleshly Israel.  However, it should be obvious from Romans 11, that the remnant, i.e. the elect were not the only ones being saved. The unnatural branches of the Gentiles upset that applecart.
Every major point McDurmon attempted in his affirmative was flawed per above.


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