A Response to A Review
Don K. Preston
In Response to a Review of the Preston- V- Welch Debate, July 2008
In July of 2008, I had a four day formal debate with amillennialist John Welch, of Indianapolis, Indiana. I wish I could say that I enjoyed the debate, but two things prevented that: First, I had double pneumonia and felt horrible the entire week. I was clearly not “on top of my game.” Second, Mr. Welch did not conduct himself in an honorable manner.
Just recently an anonymous mailer sent me a “Review of the Preston-Welch Debate.” The review was written by Mr. Welch’s son, Joshua, and appeared in the Faith and Facts publication produced by Mr. Welch. I think that it is necessary to tell my side of the story, since in my estimation, young Mr. Welch presented what can only be described as an inaccurate review of the debate. There are glaring omissions in his review, along with some misrepresentations and inaccuracies. Of course, the reader of this response may well say that what I present will itself be biased, and that is a fair statement. I will however, urge the readers of this review to get the audios of the debate and listen to them very carefully, and then decide for yourself who has presented the story more accurately. The MP3s of that debate are available from me. For ease of reference in this article, I will refer to Joshua Welch’s report simply as Review.
Review took note that in my first affirmative I offered a series of arguments on the theme of the Wedding and the Wedding Banquet. My source for the series of arguments was Isaiah 24-25, and chapter 62. I noted that Isaiah 25 posits the Banquet at the time of the resurrection (v. 6-8). I correlated Isaiah 62 and the promise of the Wedding with Matthew 25, and then demonstrated that according to Matthew 22, the Wedding took place at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. I offered charts and syllogisms to prove my case, along with the text of the passages of appeal.
Review claims that in my presentations I, “rarely read the entire contexts of passages.” Interestingly, my charts #4, 5 and 10 from that first affirmative were nothing but the texts from Isaiah! Furthermore, my syllogistic arguments were based on the specific statements of the texts under consideration.
Here are a few of the points from my first affirmative that Review mostly ignored: 1.) The Wedding promise was an Old Covenant promise made to Israel. It was not a promise made to the church divorced from Israel, as Mr. Welch believes. This is a critical point because Mr. Welch believes that God was through with Israel and the Old Law at the Cross. Throughout the debate, I asked Mr. Welch how the New Testament writers all said that their eschatological hope was nothing but the hope of Israel found in the Old Testament, if in fact the Torah passed away at the Cross, and Israel ceased to be a covenantal people at that time. Even though I asked this question in many of my presentations, both affirmative and negative, Mr. Welch never even attempted to answer this. Review conveniently omitted any reference to this question or the fact that Mr. Welch consistently ignored it.
As a matter of fact, this issue of all New Testament eschatological promises being the reiteration of Old Covenant promises made to Israel was a source of frustration to Mr. Welch during the entirety of the discussions. As I repeatedly appealed to the Old Testament prophecies from which the New Testament writers drew their eschatological hope and doctrine, Mr. Welch actually exclaimed, repeatedly, that, “Preston needs to stay out of the Old Testament!”
My response was to show, again and again, that since Paul said that his eschatology was nothing but the hope of Israel, that it was Mr. Welch’s responsibility to go to the Old Testament, not to stay out of it! As Review notes, Mr. Welch’s only attempt to respond to this argument was to say that Acts 24, 26 and Acts 28–where Paul says his doctrine was the hope of Israel– do not mention A.D. 70! This is desperation exemplified.
2.) I offered nine syllogisms in my first affirmative, all based on the emphatic statements of scripture. Review acknowledged only one syllogism on Isaiah 62. Even more significant is that Mr. Welch never even addressed a single one of my syllogisms. As a matter of fact, Review seemed to think that Mr. Welch’s approach was good when he admitted that Mr. Welch, “spent little time trying to specifically answer the arguments of the affirmative.” This is an understatement! Mr. Welch openly told the audience that, “his job, in the negative, was not to follow Preston from passage to passage.” In other words, he had no intentions of following my arguments. Ironically however, Mr. Welch repeatedly called on me to follow his arguments, even though I was in the affirmative! This is an unethical debater’s trick.
3.) I showed from Matthew 22 that the time of the Wedding was at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This text was clearly a thorn in the Mr. Welch’s side during the entire debate. I challenged him to address the argument, but, for the most part he adamantly refused to even mention Matthew 22!
The point of my argument was presented in this syllogism:
My opponent: Matthew 24-25 contains two subjects, the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and the end of the Christian age.
Matthew 25 is supposedly the prediction of the wedding of Christ at his parousia at the “end of the Christian age”.
But, the wedding of Christ was at the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 22:1-7)!
Therefore, Matthew 25 is the destruction of Jerusalem.
Matthew 24:34 applies to Matthew 25. The Olivet discourse is not divided into two topics!
It is little wonder that Mr. Welch ignored my charts and my syllogisms. This chart argument alone destroys one of the most fundamental presuppositions of his entire theology!
Review seems to think that Mr. Welch had made a serious assault on my Wedding arguments when he (Welch), “noted how Preston claimed Matthew 22 was a ‘wedding feast’ but there is no mention of a ‘wedding feast’ in the chapter.” This is a clear demonstration of the desperation hermeneutic of Mr. Welch. Matthew 22 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
So, we have a wedding and we have a feast, yet, Mr. Welch supposedly refuted my arguments by claiming that Matthew 22 does not mention a Wedding Feast! He made the same boast in regard to Acts 24, 26 and 28. I had noted that in these texts, Paul proclaimed that his gospel and eschatology was nothing but the hope of Israel. Mr. Welch’s only attempt at response was that not one of these texts mentions A.D. 70, therefore, Preston’s argument is false!
I pointed out that Mr. Welch had abandoned one of the prime hermeneutics of the churches of Christ. Here is what I mean:
In debates on the purpose of baptism, the opponents of the churches of Christ ministers have gone to passages that mention only faith or belief, and they argue: “See, this text does not specifically mention baptis
m, so baptism is not important!” The response has been– and Mr. Welch would positively agree!– that just because baptism is not specifically mentioned, you must take all that is said on a topic, from all texts. He would agree when some texts in Acts for instance say that hearers “believed” that although baptism is not specifically mentioned, you cannot exclude it. He would argue that since other texts do speak of baptism as part of the conversion process, that you cannot exclude baptism from texts that, although not specifically mentioning baptism, they speak of conversion. So, Mr. Welch had abandoned his own hermeneutic by claiming (falsely of course), that because Matthew 22 does not mention a wedding feast, therefore a wedding feast is not there.
I made the point that the Wedding Feast was the Old Covenant promises made to Israel. Jesus came to confirm the promises made to Israel. In fact, the Wedding theme is one of Jesus’ favorite themes. So, when Jesus spoke of the Wedding this demands that the prophecies behind that discussion and everything included in those prophecies is automatically included! I had some ministers comment to me privately that this was a telling point, for it illustrated that Mr. Welch was simply seeking for some way, any way, out of his dilemma.
In my second affirmative I noted from several texts that the Christian age has no end. This means, prima facie, that Mr. Welch’s doctrine that posits the end of the Christian age is wrong. I also correlated 1 Corinthians 15, the time of the end and the time of the Wedding. I also showed the perfect correlation between Daniel 12 and 1 Corinthians 15, noting that Daniel unequivocally and emphatically posited the resurrection at the time, “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered” (Daniel 12:2, 7). In fact, I presented my charts on Daniel 12 in presentation after presentation. Mr. Welch never once attempted to address the argument.
Review openly admits that Mr. Welch “spent little time” in responding to the passages in Isaiah and Daniel. In truth, he made no attempt whatsoever to answer my syllogistic argument on Daniel 12 and 1 Corinthians 15. Review does say that Mr. Welch did, “briefly respond to Preston’s arguments from Matthew 22 and Matthew 25 to make the point they never once reference or quote from Isaiah.” His point was that even though there is a feast in Isaiah and a feast in Matthew 22, but not in Matthew 25, that Preston was wrong to draw a connection between the texts. Mr. Welch’s hermeneutic is thus that if a text does not specifically say it is referencing another text, we must conclude that a different doctrine or topic is discussed in the respective texts! This kind of desperation hermeneutic typified Mr. Welch’s every presentation.
A bit of background on the debate here. In our negotiations prior to the debate, I asked Mr. Welch to answer some written questions for me, to help me better understand his views. This is standard practice. Yet, he adamantly refused to answer even one question. So, Mr. Welch had access to all of my books and my website to help him prepare. He even attended my debate with Mac Deaver in March of 2008. Yet, he refused to answer even one question to help me know his position. I commented on this during the debate. Mr. Welch claimed that he did not know how he could have been more helpful, and did not understand my frustration!
One of the questions I posed to Mr. Welch on the first night was this: “Hebrews 9:24f speaks of Christ’s High Priestly work in making the Atonement. My question is: Is there any thing Christ must yet do in order to complete the work of Atonement?” Mr. Welch said that Christ must come again the second time to complete the Atonement! This became one of the most embarrassing points of the debate for Mr. Welch. Here is the argument that I made– which of course, Review failed to even mention in spite of the fact that I repeated it in almost every presentation.
Daniel 9 says seventy weeks were determined to make the atonement.
Daniel’s seventy weeks extend no later than the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.( This is pretty much the standard position in the amillennial world).
Christ had to return the second time to complete the atonement.
Therefore, Christ had to return the second time no later than A.D. 70.
This argument clearly stunned Mr. Welch and many in the audience. The argument takes what is widely accepted in the churches of Christ, and applies Mr. Welch’s own statements to draw the conclusion. Review claims that Mr. Welch responded by noting that we don’t really know when the seventy weeks would end, and talked about all the uncertainties about Daniel 9. This was quite stunning. I have never encountered an amillennialist that claimed that the end of Daniel 9 might possibly extend beyond the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. To do so gives credence to the dispensational gap theory, which amillennialists– including Mr. Welch– are loathe to do.
Mr. Welch claimed that my argument on Daniel 9 could not be proven because my view on the day/year theory of the seventy weeks could not be proven. This demonstrated that Mr. Welch had not “done his homework,” for I do not accept that theory on Daniel 9! I observed that had Mr. Welch actually read my material he would not have misrepresented my position. Review said, “In an awkward debate tactic, he (DKP), also chided John Welch for not reading his material from his book Can God Tell Time? He claimed that if brother Welch would have researched better he would know that Preston does not take the day/year theory.” Personally, I fail to see how it is “an awkward debate” tactic to expect a man to actually know his opponent’s position well enough so as not to misrepresent him in public debate!
Speaking of misrepresentations. Mr. Welch repeatedly claimed that I believed things that I simply do not believe. I would get up and have to take my time correcting these misrepresentations. I called on Mr. Welch repeatedly to do one of two things: A.) Prove that I believed what he claimed by citing any of my works, or, B.) Stop misrepresenting me! Mr. Welch not once apologized for his repeated misrepresentations. I called attention to the fact that he had signed rules of conduct that said that each man would conduct himself “as a Christian.” I then asked: “Is it Christian behavior to constantly misrepresent a person, and refuse to apologize when it is shown that you have misrepresented them?” Mr. Welch still refused to even attempt to document what he claimed I believed, or to apologize for any misrepresentations. Review ignored this issue. Anyway, back to Daniel 9.
Mr. Welch refused to say another word about Daniel 9 and the atonement until his last speech of the debate. This in spite of the fact that I repeated my argument in almost every presentation and pressed him to respond. Finally, in an incredible reversal of position, Mr. Welch experienced a “debate conversion” (ignored by Review). Mr. Welch claimed that the atonement was finished at the Cross, and has nothing to do with the second coming! Of course, this denies what Hebrews 9 says, but that did not bother Mr. Welch! It is little wonder that Review ignored this stunning development.
Another question that I posed to Mr. Welch was this: “Specifically identify, with Scriptural proof, “the Law” that Paul said was “the strength of sin” in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56.” Mr. Welch answered by saying, “It is any law that cannot take away, or forgive sin.” I noted in response that this means that the law that was the strength of sin was the Law of Moses, as scripture clearly affirms. Furthermore, it cannot be the gospel because the gospel does forgive sin! Thus, since the resurrection would be when the law that is the strength of sin was removed, and since the gospel is not the strength of sin, the resurrection cannot be at the time of the end of the gospel– or thus, the gospel age! Like most of my arguments, Mr. Welch completely ignored this – as did Review.
Instead of attempting to respond to my arguments, Mr. Welch spent considerable time noting that if any of the New Testament books could be proven to be written after A.D. 70, then my entire doctrinal position is falsified. He then claimed that there are no less than six N. T. books that were written after A.D. 70. I had anticipated this argument, and I must confess that I purposely did not respond to this immediately. I felt that Mr. Welch would continue to harp on it, and even attempt to hang his hat on this argument. I was correct in my assumption, but more on this later.
In Mr. Welch’s second affirmative he returned to his argument on the dating of the N. T. books, calling attention to the fact that I had not addressed it. He made quite an issue of this as I had anticipated, and said that he had effectively refuted my argument based on this singular issue.
Mr. Welch then made an argument that quite frankly, although I had heard it in my earlier debate with Mac Deaver (March, 2008, Carlsbad, N. M.), I could not believe I was hearing it again. Mr. Welch put up some charts showing that Peter’s epistles (1 and 2 Peter), “were written to former Gentiles in the Roman provinces nearly 500 miles from Jerusalem.” He likewise claimed that Peter was not concerned with the salvation of “Old Covenant Israel…but ‘souls.’
Mr. Welch made the argument that the Thessalonians, the Romans, etc. were “hundreds of miles away” from Jerusalem. He claimed that they would not care about the destruction of Jerusalem or the fulfillment of Old Testament promises to Israel. He made quite a show on this argument, repeating it over and over.
In response to this I noted that the death of Jesus on the Cross was just as far away from Corinth, Rome, Athens, Thessalonians, etc. as was the fall of Jerusalem! I asked Mr. Welch if the citizens in those cities would or should care about the death of a Jew on the Cross, in fulfillment of Old Testament promises made to Israel. If the fall of Jerusalem was insignificant because it was hundreds of miles away, and was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies made to Israel, then the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus has even less meaning for us today, in America, since we are thousands of miles removed from Golgotha! Mr. Welch acted as if I never answered his argument, but the audience knew that I had answered it very well indeed!. I saw several ministers in the audience visibly respond to this argument. They clearly saw how illogical Mr. Welch’s argument truly was.
Mr. Welch argued from Matthew 22 that Jesus said that in the age to come there would be no marrying or giving in marriage. He noted that I am married, therefore, we are not in the age to come. As Review noted, I responded by showing that the issue in the text is not marriage in general, but specifically the Levirate marriage. What Review failed to acknowledge was that this proves that Jesus’ “this age” was the Mosaic age, and “the age to come” was the Christian age– which has no end. Mr. Welch quickly abandoned this argument and never returned to it.
Even though the propositions for debate clearly stated: “Resolved: The Scriptures teach…”, Mr. Welch spent a great deal of time in his affirmative presentations arguing from the patristic writers for the late date of Revelation. He also noted that none of them said the resurrection had occurred. He repeated his “six books written after A.D. 70” argument, while I patiently bided my time for my preplanned response. Each time Mr. Welch presented his argument, he seemed to grow bolder and more confident that I could not, or would not address it, ostensibly demonstrating the weakness of my position. He did not know that I was following a plan.
I made an argument on Matthew 5:17-18 noting that Jesus said that until all – not some, not even most – but the Torah would not pass until it was all fulfilled. Review notes that Mr. Welch responded by claiming that, “‘fulfill’ simply means Jesus must do all that is required of him.” I rejoined that I could, for argument sake, agree with this, but that Jesus’ second coming, the judgment and the resurrection were works Jesus was required to do! Thus, per Mr. Welch’s own argument, the Old Law cannot pass until Jesus returns! If Jesus has not returned, Torah remains valid! Review– and Mr. Welch– ignored my response.
I made several references to the time indicators of Revelation and other scriptures that said the coming of the Lord was near in the first century. I stated that it does not matter what our concept of the resurrection might be. Since the Bible affirms that it was near in the first century, then it was truly near. I took note of the fact that this argument has been made through the history of amillennialism: We may not fully understand the nature of the kingdom, but since Jesus said it was near in the first century, then we must accept those divine statements. I took note of the fact that once again, Mr. Welch was abandoning his traditional hermeneutic, and that of the churches of Christ.
I demonstrated the contrast between Daniel’s prediction of the end and John’s. Daniel was told that fulfillment was far off, and he was to seal his book. In contrast, John reiterated Daniel’s prophecy but was told not to seal the book because fulfillment was at hand. I likewise noted that the judgment of Revelation was so near, so imminent, that John actually said “let the wicked remain wicked.” I asked Mr. Welch if this was his message, since he does not believe that the judgment of Revelation has occurred. I noted that however long you extend that predicted judgment, you must likewise extend that exhortation: “let the wicked remain wicked.” Review noted that I made this argument, but did not relate that Mr. Welch ignored this specific argument.
Almost unbelievably, Mr. Welch stated that the time indicators that speak of Christ’s coming being “at hand,” “quickly,” and “shortly,” are subjective and relative, not objective. This is a stunning statement for a church of Christ minister to make. In my response I noted that Mr. Welch had (once again) abandoned the entire history of the churches of Christ hermeneutic. I challenged him to tell the audience what Jesus meant when he said “the Kingdom of heaven has drawn near”? I asked him if that time statement was relative and subjective. Once again, I detected many of the audience members react favorably to this as they saw Mr. Welch’s inconsistency exposed. I called on the church of Christ ministers in the audience to take note of what Mr. Welch had done, and I had some ministers tell me that this was a powerful point. Review–and Mr. Welch– ignored this.
Review relates how during the last two nights of the debate, Mr. Welch, “turned off his projector shutting down his prepared charts for the remaining majority of the debate. Instead of using his charts he encouraged the audience to open their Bibles and just study the Scriptures within their context.” Review calls this “a bold move” that was “incredibly powerful.” From my perspective it demonstrated that he realized that his pre-prepared material was ineffective, and he was feeling the pressure!
Mr. Welch’s approach to this “incredibly powerful” presentation was int
eresting to say the very least. As he would read a given text, he would simply ask if anyone had seen it fulfilled? He further suggested– Review says this was humorous– that anyone could “read the newspaper,” and know that the given texts had not been fulfilled! Once again, this is an incredible argument for someone of Mr. Welch’s background. But, this was the force of his “argumentation.”
What is so interesting about this– although I did not comment on it at the time– is that Mr. Welch’s father debated a premillennialist (Welch-V-Schriener Debate). The tactic of the dispensationalist was to simply get up and read large sections of scripture. He would then ask the audience if they had seen it fulfilled with their own eyes. Mr. Welch’s father castigated Mr. Schriener for this approach, stating that anyone could read the scriptures, but that it is another thing entirely to show what they mean! And yet, in our discussions, John Welch played the part of the millennialist by simply reading the scriptures and asking, “Did you see that fulfilled? Just read the newspapers!”
I noted that should Mr. Welch debate a dispensationalist that they will love his approach and use it against him. After all, millennialists appeal to the newspaper to prove that the kingdom has not been established! We don’t see nations beating their swords into plowshares, do we? The wolf is not laying down with the lamb, is it? The children are not playing with dangerous snakes with no ill effects, are they? I noted that Mr. Welch would respond to the millennialist by claiming that those were descriptions of the spiritual realities in Christ. I noted that the kingdom would not come with observation, and that therefore, we must understand the descriptions of Christ’s coming in the same way we understand the descriptions of the kingdom. Mr. Welch and Review ignored this response, but, I saw positive reaction in the audience.
Mr. Welch spent almost one entire affirmative on the word “himself” in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. He claimed that this had to refer to the literal, bodily, physical appearance of Jesus. In response, I presented a parallel chart demonstrating that every constituent element found in 1 Thessalonians 4 is found in Matthew 24:29f, and that Mr. Welch applies Matthew to Christ’s coming in A.D. 70. Review acknowledged my presentation, but claimed that my point was unclear, and that I did little to answer Mr. Welch’s argument. But of course, no matter what Mr. Welch wanted to make of “himself” in Thessalonians, since Thessalonians is directly parallel with– taken from— a text that he affirms predicted the A.D. 70 coming of Christ, then his argument was invalidated. Mr. Welch never even mentioned my chart or my argument.
Mr. Welch claimed that 1 Corinthians 15 is a defense of the resurrection of human corpses. He read the texts and simply asked if anyone could believe what Preston was saying. He claimed that anyone could see that it was about physical bodies. In other words, he appealed once again to his newspaper exegesis. Since no one saw the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 occur– as he perceives it– it did not happen.
In response, I reminded the audience again that Daniel 9 and Daniel 12 emphatically posit the resurrection at the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel. Here is the argument that I offered from Daniel 12 throughout the debate:
Daniel 12 predicted the resurrection (v. 2). The resurrection to eternal life (v. 2). The time of the end (v. 4). When the power of the holy people is completely shattered (v. 7.)
1 Corinthians 15 predicted the resurrection. The resurrection to eternal life. The time of the end. At the end of the law that was the strength of sin, i.e. the Torah.
I noted that Daniels’ divine, emphatic and specific statement as to the time of the resurrection must control our understanding of 1 Corinthians 15. I presented this chart, and similar ones, in many of my presentations. Unless memory fails me, not once did Mr. Welch even mention Daniel 12! Nor did Review report on the content of my argument simply mentioning that I did refer to Daniel.
I likewise reminded the audience of the following argument, that Mr. Welch persistently ignored:
John Welch’s entire view of Corinthians is based on false assumptions and failure to observe the context.
He assumes the issue is the raising of physical corpses– this is simply wrong.
He ignores the source of Corinthians– The Old Testament– Isaiah 24-27; Daniel 9, Daniel 12 ; Hosea 13.
He ignores the multitudinous Biblical references to when that resurrection was to occur
He ignores the fact that it was to occur at the end of the law that was the strength of sin.
Like my other charts and arguments, Mr. Welch ignored these contextual facts and proceeded as if I had said nothing. He flatly refused to deal with the issue of the resurrection being the Old Testament hope of Israel. He refused to deal with the time statements. He refused to deal with the fact that the resurrection was to be when the law that was the strength of sin– Torah– was removed. Review says that my thought process in these arguments “was over the heads of the audience.” This claim exemplifies a tremendous irony.
Mr. Welch is the minister for a denomination that claims to have restored New Testament Christianity. However, the first century church was intimately familiar with, and reliant on the Old Covenant. Virtually every New Testament author tells us that their gospel message and their eschatological hope was the anticipation of the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises made to Israel. Yet, Mr. Welch castigated me for honoring Paul’s declaration that his gospel was nothing but the hope of Israel. He repeatedly said, “Preston needs to stay out of the Old Testament!” How can one claim to have restored New Testament Christianity when they claim that God was through with Israel at the Cross, and when they claim that the Old Testament promises to Israel were no longer valid? I presented the following chart and concept repeatedly. This chart is from material I presented on 2 Peter, but I made the argument on 1 Corinthians 15 and several texts.
PETER’S PREDICTION OF THE PAROUSIA, IS FROM THE O.T. HOPE OF ISRAEL
MY OPPONENT BELIEVES THE OLD LAW DIED AT THE CROSS!
QUESTION: HOW COULD PETER BE APPEALING TO A DEAD LAW CONTAINING DEAD PROMISES GIVEN TO A COVENANTALLY DEAD PEOPLE FOR HIS ESCHATOLOGICAL HOPE?
ISN’T A DEAD LAW- WITH ITS PROMISES– DEAD?
THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM FOR MY OPPONENT!
Mr. Welch never attempted to answer this chart or argument. He acted as if I had never made the argument, and Review totally ignored it as well.
An interesting incident occurred that demonstrated the legalistic mind-set of Mr. Welch and his camp. Mr. Welch accused me of being a Calvinist. I responded that I am not of the Calvinist persuasion. However, I did affirm that I had gladly abandoned the “never in grace” position of Mr. Welch, and rejoice in the security of my salvation. Review observed: “In one interesting section, Preston did reveal a surprising belief as he affirmed ‘the security of the believer’ and denied that one sin could cause a Christian to lose their salvation…Such a belief may have come as a shock to many members of the church who ass
ociate themselves with Preston.”
I most gladly affirm the security of the believer in Christ, and do not for one moment think that one sin will cause a Christian to lose their salvation! To suggest otherwise is nothing short of “perfectionism” and legalism– it is a re-imposition of Torah! My salvation is by grace through faith, not by being good enough not to commit one single sin! Lamentably, Mr. Welch’s view of grace is so limited that it is evidently insufficient to cover even one sin! Paul said that life under Torah meant that one sin condemned (Galatians 3:10, cf. James 2:10). Mr. Welch says this is likewise the gospel! What a “fear– full” way to live! What an insecure way to live! What an awful message to preach! Praise God for His grace! I am glad to say that my position on grace and the security of the believer will not come as a surprise to those with whom I associate. This is the message that I preach!
After Mr. Welch had once again offered up his “six books after A.D. 70” argument, the time was right. He had boasted repeatedly that I knew that I could not answer the argument, so I had avoided it. But as noted earlier, this was my strategy from the outset. I knew what I wanted to do, and the plan worked as desired!
First of all, I presented a chart with numerous quotes from various authors–none who are preterists– to show that the term “seal up vision and prophecy” in Daniel 9:24 refers to the cessation of the prophetic office through the fulfillment of all prophecy. You can see these quotes and more in my book Seal Up Vision and Prophecy, available from this website. Here is the argument that I then offered:
Seal vision and prophecy means the cessation of the prophetic office (inspiration) through fulfillment of all prophecy.
Seventy Weeks, ending no later than A.D. 70 were determined to seal vision and prophecy.
Therefore, all prophecy was given and fulfilled no later than A.D. 70.
However long you extend the 70 weeks, it is that long you extend the revelation process!
Mr. Welch had argued that we do not know when the seventy weeks would end. This demands that we cannot know when the revelatory process would end! Yet Mr. Welch believes that it ended in approximately A.D. 95-98 when John wrote Revelation!
This argument clearly stunned Mr. Welch and many in the audience. But I was not through. After presenting a chart with the text of Zechariah 13:1f- 14:1f, and reading it to the audience (Remember that Review said I did not do this), I then presented the following argument:
YHVH Would Cause The Prophets (Thus, the Prophetic Office) To Cease (Zechariah 13:2).
The Prophet (And Thus the Prophetic Office) Would Cease in the Day of the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Salvation of the Remnant (Zechariah 13:8-14:1-2).
Therefore, the Prophet (And Thus, the Prophetic Office) Ceased in the Day of the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Salvation of the Remnant (13:8-14:1-2).
In light of these facts I then made the point that if there were six books of the New Testament written after the destruction of Jerusalem, then those six books were not inspired!
Body language says a lot, and from the body language of Mr. Welch, he realized that his “six books after A.D. 70” argument had just been totally falsified. Furthermore, there were many, many members of the audience that saw the power of this argument. But Mr. Welch did not offer a response to this argument. Review did not share what my argument actually was. He simply said that I made an argument from Daniel 9 and Zechariah claiming it was “hard to follow.” It is little wonder why Review did not share with his readers the actual argument. I suspect that the argument was not as hard to follow as Review claims.
Review reports that Mr. Welch claimed that, “the only way that people die in Adam is physically.” Perhaps Mr. Welch can clarify with his son what he actually said, because in fact, Mr. Welch had stated: “Men do not die physically today because of the sin of Adam, they die because they do not have access to the tree of life.” In what can only be described as a strange bit of discourse, Mr Welch began discussing how horses can be made to live longer by receiving a better diet, seemingly making the point that if man just eats the right stuff, that he can live forever! Quite frankly, I could not believe what I was hearing.
As a response, I offered the following, which clearly bothered Mr. Welch:
John Welch says: Horses (and presumably all other animals, DKP), die physically because they don’t eat the right stuff.
John Welch says: Man dies physically because he does not have access to the tree of life- does not eat the right stuff!
Brother Welch, did Jesus die to give physical life to the horses, slugs and bugs?
Will the restoration of the Tree of Life mean that horses, bugs and slugs will live physically forever?
If not, why not?
Mr. Welch responded by saying that he did not mean to imply anything about the work of Jesus in his discussion of the horses and a better diet. I must confess that his attempt to rectify this bit of discourse was baffling. Others said the same thing to me after the debate.
The bottom line is that according to Mr. Welch, physical death now has nothing to do with Adam and man’s sin. Man’s physical death is solely because of the absence of the Tree of Life! But of course, Paul saw things differently in 1 Corinthians 15:54f, when he saw the absolute necessity for the removal of the Law and the “sting of death”, i.e. sin! Furthermore, as I noted in the chart, Mr. Welch’s argument demands that the Tree of Life is for the purpose of giving physical life in heaven! When I made this point I asked: “What does the gift of immortality and incorruptibility mean?” Mr. Welch was totally evasive, stating that we just don’t really know how things will be, and we don’t have all the answers. But of course, he claimed, Preston is wrong!
But the point was made. You cannot argue on the one hand that physical death is the direct result of the absence of the Tree of Life, and avoid the logical implication that when man has access to the Tree of Life once again, that the Tree will give physical life! If you have physical life sustained by a Tree, then you don’t have incorruptibility and immortality. It is just that simple.
There was naturally much more that we could comment on. There were a lot of issues and passages discussed. In closing however, I want to take note of an accusation by Review.
During the negotiations for this debate, I submitted proposals to guide the conduct of each disputant in the debate. Not one person that I have ever debated has had a problem signing these guidelines! Instead, Mr. Welch would only agree to sign a proposition that each man “shall conduct himself as a Christian gentleman.” I was concerned about his adamant refusal to sign rules of conduct, but, I agreed to the proposal. During the debate, his tactics and conduct revealed why he would not sign the rules. His concept of acting as “a Christian gentleman” is clearly different than mine! His constant practice of misrepresenting my beliefs, and his stubborn refusal to either prove his allegations, or to apologize for any misrepresentations, seems hardly “Christian” i
n my view.
The author of Review says that I was “rattled,” “abrasive,” and that I engaged in “personal attacks” on Mr. Welch. This simply is not true! He says that I ended the debate with complaints about Mr. Welch. Here are the facts.
On the other hand, Mr. Welch was the epitome of sarcasm at times, and I had different members of the audience say so to me.
Now, did I offer some complaints– if you wish to call it that– about Mr. Welch? Yes, I did!
I complained about his refusal to answer questions before the debate, an almost unprecedented tactic. Mr. Welch is the only person I have ever debated that refused to cooperate in this manner!
Did I complain about Mr. Welch’s misrepresentations of my views? I certainly did!
Did I complain that Mr. Welch refused to even attempt to address a single one of my syllogisms, or, that he refused to follow my arguments? I plead guilty!
The accusation that I was abrasive and caustic is a charge that I take very seriously. Of course, one might surmise that young Mr. Welch, seeing his beloved father do so poorly, took this as a personal attack.
But to me, the determinative answer to this charge is found in what was said to me after the debate (and in later correspondence). No less than five ministers, who agreed with Mr. Welch theologically, came to me (or emailed) and complimented me on my conduct. They stated specifically that I had conducted myself as a Christian gentleman, but that in their view, Mr. Welch had not done so! I even had two ministers tell me privately that Mr. Welch has a reputation for being caustic, abrasive, even unethical, in debates. To me, the comments of those from Mr. Welch’s side of the issue are significant. Of course, I might add that the preterists in attendance likewise complimented my conduct, and were offended by Mr. Welch’s actions.
I never intend to be known as caustic or abrasive and I never impugn the integrity or heart of my debate opponents. Clearly, I press the issues before us, but, the guiding principle of conduct in my heart is taken from 2 Timothy 2:24: “The child of God must not strive, but be gentle to all men…”
Review closes their comments by urging the readers that they would, “do well to watch this debate in its entirety. Yet, as you do, please do not get caught up in the charts, the speaking ability or the unfounded claims of any speaker.”
I would agree with this, but overall, it is one of the few things in Review that I can agree with. You may obtain the MP3 version of the debate from me. The videos are also available from me.
Don K. Preston
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