I am publishing here the announcement of an important formal written debate. This announcement was written by my friend and counterpart in the debate, Kurt Simmons. I am publishing the announcement un-edited as Kurt sent it to his E-Journal mailing list. If all goes well, I will submit my first affirmative presentation early next week.
Don K. Preston
We are pleased to announce an important Preterist event – the Preston-Simmons Debate. Don Preston is a great guy and first rate debater; he has made a career debating Preterism with futurists of all sorts. Among those Don has met in debate include Tommy Ice, James Jordan, F. La Guard Smith, and Mac Deaver, just to name a few. To my knowledge, this is Don’s first debate with a full Preterist like himself. But if both Don and I are full Preterists, what is there to discuss?
Don will be representing the “corporate body view” camp.
More than you might suspect. Preterism today holds three main camps: The first camp consists of Universalists, of whom Max King and his Presence Ministries is the moving force. This group takes aspiritualized view of the resurrection, holding that the general, eschatological resurrection consisted in justification from the Mosaic law. This view is commonly referred to as the “corporate body view” because it sees mankind as being corporately dead in sin and corporately raised (justified) at Christ’s Second Coming. It is also known as “Covenant Eschatology” because it postpones the end of the Old Covenant until AD 70 and sees the second coming as consisting primarily in the change of the Old Testament to the New. According to this view, mankind was dead in sin by virtue of the Old Law; the Decalogue was a “ministration of death” and Judaism was the “state and power of death” to be annulled at Christ’s coming. Man continued under the condemning power of the law from the cross until the AD 70 second coming, when the law was removed and man was justified and made free of the law’s power.
At first, this view was not overtly universalistic, and applied only to the Jews and first century, pre-parousia (pre-second coming) Christians. Later, when it was realized that men of every race and tongue were under the power of sin and death, this view was expanded to include all men. The Max King/Presence Ministries crowd is now overtly Universalistic, claiming that all men are justified from sin regardless of faith or repentance. Needless to say, Bible-believing Christians abominate Universalism and shun the King crowd as teachers of a false gospel.
The second camp of Preterists include men like Don who came under the early influence of Max King and subscribe to his view of a spiritualized resurrection. However, Don is not a Universalist, and does not see the correlation between King’s view and Universalism. Even so, he embraces the spiritualized view of the resurrection advanced by King, affirming that the law was valid, binding, and obligatory until AD 70, at which time it was removed and man was then, and only then, justified from sin. There is a Calvinistic wing of this camp that substitutes “imputed Adamic guilt / death” in place of the Mosaic law, but otherwise subscribes to the spiritualized resurrection view.
The third camp of Preterists holds that the general, eschatological resurrection was of the soul or spirit from Hades. This group sees redemption and atonement as being fulfilled at the the cross, affirming that grace was full and free from and after Jesus’ crucifixion; it rejects the idea that AD 70 in anyway added to or completed man’s salvation from sin, affirming that the destruction of Jerusalem was irrelevant in terms of man’s redemption and atonement. I will be representing the “cross-camp.” I had hoped that Don would agree to debate the nature of the resurrection directly, but he refused my invitation. Instead, Don proposed we debate when the law ceased to be “valid.” This indirectly bears upon the question of the “corporate body view” because if man was justified at the cross and the law ceased to hold man under its condemning power, then the corporate body view is invalid. However, Don and I were unable to settle upon mutually antithetical propositions. Don’s definition of the “law” is very different from mine and this prevented us from being able to frame propositions that were actually the antithesis of the other’s.
Finally, we were able to settle upon the following propositions:
Resolved: The Bible teaches that the coming of Christ for salvation in Romans 11:25-27 occurred in AD 70 at the climax and termination of the Mosaic Covenant Age.
Affirm: Don K. Preston
Deny: Kurt Simmons
Resolved: The Bible teaches that the coming of Christ for salvation in Romans 11:25- 27 occurred at the Cross at the climax and termination of the Mosaic Covenant Age.
Affirm: Kurt Simmons
Deny: Don K. Preston
These propositions are sufficiently broad to allow full discussion of the differences between us. As may be seen, Don places salvation at the Parousia in AD 70, I place salvation at the cross. The validity of the “corporate body view” is therefore fully at issue, albeit without having to delve into the question of whether the Bible actually teaches that the general resurrection was the spiritualized model the “corporate body view” supposes. It is at issue, because if salvation (justification/atonement) happened at the cross, then the “corporate body view” is erroneous and invalid and must be rejected. Of course, resurrection is not the real issue. The real issue is where does the Bible place redemption, atonement, and justification? At the cross or at the second coming? I affirm the former, Don the latter. Christianity has traditionally assigned salvation to the cross. In this discussion, Don will attempt to show this is incorrect. Each man will have three 12 page affirmatives and three 12 page negatives, for a total of as much as 144 pages, to be published monthly here, and on our respective web sites. The first installment should be in the Ap
ril edition of The Sword & The Plow. Don is a good friend, faithful gospel preacher, and beloved brother. I look forward to our discussion. I know I will learn a lot and am sure you will too