PRESTON- SIMMONS FORMAL WRITTEN DEBATE
Don K. Preston’s First Affirmative
(Note: Kurt and I originally agreed to 12 pages per presentation. We have now agreed to 14 pages per presentation being permitted per man)
It is an honor to discuss this important topic with my good friend Kurt Simmons. I know that this will be a friendly debate that all readers may profit from. It is likewise an important issue. Was the salvation process perfected and completed at the Cross, as Kurt affirms, or, was the Cross the initiation of a process that was not consummated until the AD 70 parousia? The latter is, in my view, patently the correct Biblical view, and I will seek to vindicate that claim.
Here is my proposition:
: 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
Let me state now what this debate is not about:
Kurt and I both agree that Christ’s second coming occurred in AD 70.
Kurt and I both agree that the resurrection occurred in AD 70. We have differences in regard to the nature and framework of the resurrection– differences that will be noted as we proceed, but, we both affirm the reality of the resurrection in AD 70.
This debate is not in any way about whether the Cross of Christ is the ground and source for the salvation of mankind.
This debate is whether the salvation that is dependent on the Cross was finished at the Cross, or, whether the Cross was part of a complex of events. The Cross initiated the salvific process, the parousia (Christ’s second coming), finalized that process.
The Prophetic Background of Romans 11 Proves That the Coming of the Lord Paul Anticipated Was the AD 70 Coming of Christ
When Paul spoke of the coming of the Lord for salvation to take away Israel’s sin, he cites three OT prophecies: Isaiah 27:9f, Isaiah 59:20 and Jeremiah 31:29f. (Another text, Daniel 9:24f clearly lies behind Romans 11 as well. I will try to get to that in this debate). For the moment, we will focus on the two prophecies from Isaiah.
In an article responding to Kurt’s assessment of Romans 11 I noted that the time of Israel’s salvation according to Isaiah 27:9f would be when YHVH took away her sin, in the day that the altar was turned to chalkstone, God would forget the people He had created, and have no mercy on them. I further noted that according to the antecedent references to “in that day” that this would be when YHVH would come and avenge the blood of the martyrs. (See my articles at: www.eschatology.org.
Here is the argument I made:
The coming of the Lord to take away Israel’s sin would be the coming of the Lord foretold in Isaiah 27:9f.
The coming of the Lord in Isaiah 27:9f would be the coming of the Lord in judgment of Israel for shedding innocent blood (Isaiah 26:20f).
Therefore, the coming of the Lord of Romans 11:26 would be the coming of the Lord in judgment of Israel for shedding innocent blood.
My friend responded that “there have been many days of the Lord, and that to avenge innocent blood” (S-P, p. 2). He rightly notes that the Babylonian invasion was to avenge the martyrs’ blood in the sixth century (2 Kings 24:1-4; Jeremiah 2-4:13). Simmons is correct in his basic thought. What he fails to honor is that Jesus said that all of the blood of all the righteous, all the way back to creation, would be avenged in his generation (Matthew 23:29-37). Jesus’ statement includes the comprehensive and consummative avenging of the blood of the martyrs that were in measure “avenged” in the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions! So, while those judgments came as a result of Israel’s bloodguilt, there is no question that in the mind of Jesus the bloodguilt of Jerusalem was not fully avenged in those judgments.
Please catch this: my friend admits in a footnote (S-P, July 2009, p. 2), “We do not disallow the possibility that there is a plenior sensus (fuller meaning, DKP), to Isaiah 26:21 that may look beyond its historical setting to Christ’s second coming.” Well, if this is true, then Paul could, after all, be citing Isaiah to speak of the AD 70 judgment, could he not? If not, why not? So, Kurt, tell us plainly: Does (can) Isaiah 27:9 have a plenior sensus application to AD 70, or not?
When I took note of my friend’s admission that Isaiah 26-27 could refer to AD 70, in his second response (Sept., 2009, S-P), Kurt then did a 180% reversal and denied that Isaiah 27 could refer to AD 70. Why? Because that admission is fatal to his view of Romans 11. He said it referred to the Assyrian invasion of the eighth century BC! But then, he changed again and claimed that Isaiah 27 speaks of “the basic promise to bring salvation, notwithstanding the unfaithfulness of the people” that Paul had in mind when he referenced Isaiah (S-P, Sept, 2009, 3). In other words, he says Isaiah 27 foretold the Cross. I want the reader to catch the full power of what Kurt has done.
The actual text of Isaiah 27:9 says: “By this then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of his sin, when He makes the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces.” (NASV) Words could hardly be clearer.
But, here is what Kurt does:
He says Isaiah 27 cannot be AD 70 because Israel was not guilty of literal idolatry at that time.
However, Kurt says that Isaiah 27 does predict the Cross of Christ, although there was no literal idolatry at that time!
Patently, if Isaiah 27 cannot refer to AD 70 because Israel was not guilty of literal idolatry at that time, then logically, you cannot argue that Isaiah 27 foretold the Cross for the identical reason! My friend’s logic is self contradictory to say the very least.
On the one hand Kurt tells us that Isaiah 27 has nothing to do with AD 70, but it is a prediction of salvation at the Cross which Paul had in mind in Romans 11. But, this completely denies the actual content and wording of the text! This claim has no textual or contextual corroboration whatsoever. If so, Kurt must produce it.
How can Paul have the Cross in mind in Romans 11 when appealing to a text that is emphatically and specifically predictive of salvation through jud
gment: “By this then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for…. when He makes the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces“? Kurt is asking us to ignore, no, to deny, the specific words of Isaiah and read into the text a topic unrelated to the prophetic words!
I am going to ask, no, I will insist, that my friend answer this question without evasion or obfuscation. This is a critical issue of hermeneutics. What is there in the text of Isaiah 26-27 that even suggests the Cross, and not judgment? What is your hermeneutic for ignoring the emphatic words of the text, and then for insisting that we read into the text something that is not there?
There is not one word in Isaiah 27 about the Cross. Isaiah 27 is a judgment coming of the Lord to avenge innocent blood. But, Jesus’ Cross was not a judgment coming to avenge innocent blood.
A word here about type and anti-type. I have no problem affirming that Isaiah 26-27 was a type of AD 70– as Kurt initially suggested. However, to suggest that the judgment of Isaiah was typological of a future event excludes the Cross! Types were foreshadowings of things similar to themselves. This is axiomatic. Thus, the invasion and judgment of Israel for shedding innocent blood could well be typological of the last days judgment of Israel for shedding innocent blood.
However, to suggest that Assyria’s judgment of Israel for shedding innocent blood was typological of the Cross–which was in no way a judgment of Israel for shedding innocent blood– is disjunctive and illogical. There is no similarity, of any kind. There is no foreshadowing likeness. There is no type and anti-type. Thus, if the Assyrian invasion and judgment of Israel was typological, as Kurt initially admitted, then it was typological of the AD 70 judgment of Israel for shedding innocent blood, and not the Cross.
Note that this coming of the Lord in Isaiah 26:20f / 27:9f is also the time of the resurrection (Isaiah 26:19– Will Kurt deny that Isaiah 26:19f is a resurrection text? It is the same resurrection as in Isaiah 25:8 that is the source of Paul’s resurrection hope! If he admits that it is, this demands that the Day of the Lord of v. 20– and the salvation of Israel in 27:9f are all synchronous). So, here is my argument:……..
The remainder of this presentation, and the entirety of the debate, is now available in book form from Don K. Preston. Price of the book is $19.95 + $4.50 postage.
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