A Few Thoughts in Response to Robert L Kramer– #2
Don K. Preston
A good friend, Bill Kanengiser, recently sent me some correspondence between himself and Robert L. Kramer who produces the “Second Thoughts” journal (42 Evans Ave. Sinking Spring, Pa., 19608). Mr. Kramer and I have corresponded in the past, since he sometimes expresses his views against Covenant Eschatology. Kramer seems to be a genuinely good man who loves the Lord, and I have always appreciated his demeanor in our correspondence.
Mr. Kanengiser asked if I would be willing to respond to some of the issues that Kramer raised against the true preterist position, and I am happy to do so, ever so briefly. Mr. Kramer raised seven points. We will look at each of them individually.
Mr. Kramer claims: “Luke 21:22 is, of course, the foundation verse upon which preterism is built–but many verses can be cited that prove that “all” is seldom used in the absolute sense– it doesn’t include all the OT prophecies, but rather all the prophecies that pertained to the coming destruction of the city and temple.”
Let me urge the reader to read my more in-depth analysis of Luke 21:22 as I respond to Kenneth Gentry’s similar objection to preterism. In his He Shall Have Dominion book (2009) Gentry makes some of the same arguments that Mr. Kramer offers, as well as some additional arguments. In my upcoming, revised version of my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, I have a lengthy critique and refutation of Gentry’s arguments. My book is at the printer now, and should be available shortly.
Mr. Kramer is guilty of several logical and factual errors here.
1.) He claims that Luke 21:22 is the foundational verse upon which preterism is based. Now, make no mistake, Luke 21:22 is a powerful piece of evidence in support of true preterism. However, it is by no means the foundational text upon which preterism is founded. This is a misrepresentation of the facts. In my own personal experience, I became a preterist without relying very heavily at all on the Lukan text.
2.) Luke 21:22 in concert with Daniel 9:24 does demonstrate that “all things written” in Luke is comprehensive. We cannot give a detailed argument here, but, in Daniel 9:24 we are told that seventy weeks were determined to “seal up vision and prophecy.” Virtually all scholarship understands this to refer to the final fulfillment of all prophecy. See my book Seal Up Vision and Prophecy for a detailed demonstration of this. That book is available from this website. The critical thing to note is that Daniel 9, just like Luke 21:22 refers to AD 70! Soi, Daniel 9 foretold the fulfillment of all prophecy by the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Jesus said that in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, “all things written must be fulfilled. This is perfect harmony and points to one event, AD 70.
3.) Mr. Kramer is certainly correct to note that the word “all” can be, and often is, used in a restricted sense in scripture. However, that is not the point! Linguistically and hermeneutically, the burden of responsibility lies squarely on Mr. Kramer– and those like him– who deny that a word with a normal meaning is not now bearing its normal meaning in a given text. It is not my responsibility to prove that a word does not mean “all” when the text says “all.” It is my responsibility however, to examine the text carefully to see if the word carries its normal meaning. If there is nothing in the text that forbids the normal definition of a word, then hermeneutically, it is unjustifiable to claim that we should understand it in a different sense.
4.) It goes without saying that the word “all” is used often in a limited sense, but, let me say again that this is not the issue. Hermeneutically, just because it can be shown that for instance “all Judea and Jerusalem” went out to John the Baptizer does not mean that every single person did not go out to him, in no way implies that “all things written” in Luke is to be limited. That is an illegitimate transfer of context. The subject matter is different in the two texts, thus, the definition of “all” in Matthew 3 has not bearing on the meaning of “all” in Luke 21.
5.) Mr. Kramer says that “all things written” does not include the OT prophecies. This is a very unsound argument. Did not the OT predict the AD 70 fall of Jerusalem? It most assuredly did! Isaiah 2-4; Isaiah 65-66, Daniel 9, Daniel 12, and a host of other OT prophecies anticipated that catastrophe. So, Mr. Kramer is forced to acknowledge that Luke 21:22 does in fact refer to Old Covenant prophecies of the fall of Jerusalem, at the very least. Luke 21:22 by the very nature of the case, would also refer to any and all New Testament prophecies of the AD 70 destruction. So, on the one hand, Mr. Kramer is arguing that “all things written” does not refer to all things written. Then he affirms that “all things written refers to “all the prophecies that pertained to the coming destruction of the city and temple.” In other words, he is affirming the fulfillment of ALL of a certain class of prophecies!
6.) To respond to Mr. Kramer’s argument that Luke 21:22 simply refers to the fulfillment of all prophecies related to the fall of Jerusalem, I give here some of the material from my upcoming revision of my Like Father Like Son book.
The indisputable fact is that in the Old Testament the resurrection of the dead and every eschatological tenet is repeatedly posited at the destruction of Old Covenant Israel. Note a couple of examples.
“O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. 2 For You have made a city a ruin, A fortified city a ruin, A palace of foreigners to be a city no more; It will never be rebuilt. 3 Therefore the strong people will glorify You; The city of the terrible nations will fear You. 4 For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. 5 You will reduce the noise of aliens, As heat in a dry place; As heat in the shadow of a cloud, The song of the terrible ones will be diminished. 6 And in this mountain The LORD of hosts will make for all people A feast of choice pieces, A feast of wines on the lees, Of fat things full of marrow, Of well–refined wines on the lees. 7 And He will destroy on this mountain The surface of the covering cast over all people, And the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.”
Note that in the day that YHVH would destroy death, it would also be when He made the city a desolation, and turned the temple over to foreigners! The city under consideration is the “city of confusion” in chapter 24:10f, Ariel, i.e. Jerusalem. So, Isaiah emphatically posits the resurrection at the time of Jerusalem’s demise.
In chapter 26:19-21, the Lord predicted the resurrection at the time when YHVH would come out of heaven and avenge the blood of the martyrs. Of course, Jesus was emphatically clear that all
of the righteous blood of all the saints, shed on the earth, would be avenged in the judgment of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Matthew 23:34f).
In Isaiah 27:1f, we find the destruction of Leviathan, the enemy of God, defeated in the day that the Lord would come, the Day of 26:19f, i.e. the day of the resurrection. And, this Day of the Lord would also be when the people that YHVH had created would no longer receive mercy, and He would turn the altar to chalkstones (Isaiah 27:9f). Thus, again, the resurrection is clearly placed in the context of the judgment of Jerusalem and Israel.
So, the indisputable fact is that in the OT every eschatological element is directly associated with the AD 70 fall of Jerusalem. Isaiah 65 directly links the New Heaven and Earth with the destruction of Old Covenant Israel (v. 13-19). Likewise, Daniel 12:2-7 irrefutably connects the resurrection to eternal life to the time “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered.”
Now, since OT prophecy directly and undeniably links the eschaton with the destruction of Old Covenant Israel / Jerusalem, then for Mr. Kramer to admit that AD 70 was the fulfillment of all OT prophecy of the AD 70 fall of Jerusalem is tantamount to an abdication of his futurism, and a total vindication of the true preterist paradigm. Mr. Kramer has ignored the overwhelming evidence about the eschatological significance of the demise of the Old Covenant city. His objection is falsified.