Written Debates

Written Debate: The Perfection of Salvation and Passing of Torah– Simmon's Final Negative

Preston-Simmons Debate

 

A Vindication of Christ’s Cross Against the

Errors of Covenant Eschatology

 

Simmons’ Third Negative

 

“Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines.”  Heb. 13:9

 

 

Truth of Preterism, Falsity of Covenant Eschatology

 

In opening my third negative, let me state that, despite my disagreement with Don about “Covenant Eschatology,” I remain fully convinced of the truth of Preterism.  Preterism can be demonstrated by an abundance of proofs from both the scriptures and early church fathers.  Origen (AD 185–254), the most learned and illustrious of the early fathers said:

 

We do not deny, then, that the purificatory fire and the destruction of the world took place in order that evil might be swept away, and all things be renewed; for we assert that we have learned these things from the sacred books of the prophets…And anyone who likes may convict this statement of falsehood, if it be not the case that the whole Jewish nation was overthrown within one single generation after Jesus had undergone these sufferings at their hands.  For forty and two years, I think after the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, did the destruction of Jerusalem take place.” Origen, Contra Celsum, IV, xxi-xxii; Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 505, 506.

 

Origen was almost certainly a Preterist; he could not make this statement otherwise.  Another early Christian writer who was a Preterist is Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 263–339), whose works are widely known and cited both in and out of Preterist circles.  The Preterism of these and other early Christian writers establish Preterism as an interpretative method entitled to its place among respected scholarship. However, Covenant Eschatology is another thing entirely.  Preterism traces its roots to the earliest history of the church and has been present in every age since, but Covenant Eschatology is new, whipped up by the imagination of Max King less than 40 years ago.  The Mormons started in the 1830’s.  The Seventh Day Adventists date from about 1840’s.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses date from about 1887-1912.  Covenant Eschatology dates from the 1970’s.  The very newness of the doctrine is its own repudiation.  Can Covenant Eschatology truly claim a rightful place in the “faith once delivered to the saints” when it is so totally new and unprecedented in its basic doctrines?  Where was it ever heard in all of Christendom and its 2,000 years that the saints were under the law until AD 70? Where was it ever heard or taught that justification from sin was postponed until the asserted removal of the law AD 70? We find Preterism present from the very start, but Covenant Eschatology? Never! This should raise for us a warning flag, for what is new in things Christian is invariably false.

 

It is a general rule that the one thing that makes any particular sect unique in Christendom is often the one thing that is wrong.  Seventh Day Adventists claim E.G. White was a latter day prophet and that Sabbath and dietary restrictions of the law are still binding. These are what make Adventists unique within Christendom, and it is these very things that are patently false.  Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the divinity of Christ, claim it is unlawful to receive blood transfusions, to celebrate birthdays or to vote. These things make them unique, and each of these is manifestly false. Covenant Eschatology claims the law was still valid after the cross, that the saints continued under bondage to sin, and were not justified until the law was allegedly removed until AD 70. These are the things that make Covenant Escha
tology unique and these are the very things that make it false.

 

As proof of the very real danger the error of Covenant Eschatology presents, we need only look to its author, Max King.  It is no secret or coincidence that King is now the teacher of a false gospel; King’s “Presence Ministries” preaches Universalism by which all men are allegedly saved without faith, without repentance, without confession, without baptism, and without the cross.  The seeds of King’s error appeared early on.  Jim McGuiggan commented upon King’s tendency to Universalism in their debate in the early 1970’s (p. 111). Consider this comment from King’s debate with McGuiggan (emphasis in original):

 

“The sting of death was SIN.  But WHAT was the STRENGTH of sin? Paul said “the Law.” The victory is obtained through God’s making…a new creation… where sin has strength no longer. Hence, the sting of death is removed forever.”  McGuiggan/King Debate, p. 98.

 

Notice, that at the very point where King should have said, the victory was obtained through the cross; instead the victory is attributed to removal of the law!  The cross is displaced by AD 70!  As King said in his later work, ““The defeat of sin is tied to the annulment of the old aeon of law…death is abolished when the state of sin and the law are abolished.”  (Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 644, emphasis added). Sin is defeated by removal of the law?  What?!!! What happened to the cross?!!!  Notice also the latent seeds of Universalism inherent in this thought, where the asserted removal of the law disarmed the power of sin and death. If the law condemned all men, and if the law was removed for all men, then all men are freed from condemnation of sin by the law.  Voila!  Universalism!  Compare King’s statement with the words of Tim King, Max’s son, 30 years later:

 

“Simply stated, man is changed because his world changed. Man is reconciled to God because he no longer lives under the rule of sin and death as determined by the Mosaic world. Through the gift of Christ he dwells in a world of righteousness and life. The issue is cosmic and corporate, not individual and limited” (Tim King, Comprehensive Grace, 2005).

Notice that King says reconciliation is not individual, but cosmic and corporate, viz., universal.  All men are under grace and “dwell in a world of righteousness and life.”  Notice also that the cross is totally away from King’s “Comprehensive Grace” (as he calls it).  Man is not saved because the cross of Christ brought grace. He does not say, “Man is reconciled because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.” No! Man is saved because the Mosaic law was taken away!  Reconciliation did not happen at Calvary when Christ carried the debt of sin to the cross. No! Reconciliation happened when the law was supposedly removed by the destruction of Jerusalem!  King’s 2009 conference was entitled “One Inclusive God.”  A visit to his site will convince anyone that they have left Christianity and arrived at some form of new age religion and philosophy of man.  I say with full sincerity that I believe Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are more Biblically grounded than anything you will find in King’s ministry these days. 

Yet, notwithstanding the obvious danger “Covenant Eschatology” presents and its established record of leading men into serious error and eternal peril, Don has clung tenaciously to it.  Don once wrote, “You cannot teach a doctrine without implications.  And if the implications are dangerous, then the doctrine is dangerous.”  (Elements, p. 244).  Somewhat ironically, when he said this Don was writing against Universalism among Preterists!  Covenant Eschatology is the very fount and source of Universalism among Preterists!  How can Don possibly defend it?

Don, the Cross, and Torah’s Mysterious “Negative Power”

 

We have repeatedly charged that Covenant Eschatology overthrows the cross of Christ. We have repeatedly stated that the cross has dropped out of Don’s system of soteriology. We stated

 

If the cross did not triumph over the law at Calvary, if man had to wait until the law was removed to be justified from sin, then nothing happened at the cross.  This is the long and short of Don’s teaching: nothing happened at the cross.” 

 

There could be no more serious charge leveled at the gospel preacher than to accuse him of overthrowing the cross.  If there was any topic in this debate Don should have been zealous to vindicate and explain it is the accusation that Covenant Eschatology overthrows the Savior’s cross.  Let the reader take note that despite repeated invitations, Don has absolutely refused to give us an explanation of what happened at the cross. Why?  How difficult could it be?  I could do it; the reader could do it; any Christian could do it. Why won’t Don?  Clearly, it is because the cross and Covenant Eschatology are mutually exclusive systems, and to affirm the one is to deny the other. I know Don loves and honors the cross in his heart. But when the two systems are laid side by side, they cannot be reconciled.  All that Christianity and the scripture normally associate with the cross, Covenant Eschatology attributes to AD 70. 

 

Covenant Eschatology spiritualizes the resurrection and makes it equal with justification. Therefore, it cannot acknowledge that the debt of sin was extinguished (“blotted out” – Col. 2:14) at the cross, for that would not allow for a spiritualized resurrection in AD 70.  Preterism simply states that the souls in Hades were received into heaven in AD 70, and therefore offers no violence to the cross.  But the spiritualized resurrection of Max King and Don, which keeps man under the debt of sin until AD 70, must relocate justification and atonement, and to do so they must take from the cross.  This is why Don has studiously sought to avoid discussion of the cross in this debate; he cannot credit anything to the cross without first taking something away from Covenant Eschatology.  Consider the chart below: all that appears in the column under Covenant Eschatology, Christianity and scripture historically ascribe to the cross.  Covenant Eschatology leaves the column below the cross completely empty. If this charge is false, then let Don place beneath the cross any item on the list.  I think we will find that that there is nothing on the list Don is willing to say arrived or happened at the cross.

 

 

Cross

 

Covenant Eschatology

 

 

 

?

 

Atonement  – AD70

?

 

Justification – AD 70

?

 

Reconciliation – AD 70

?

 

Forgiveness of sins – AD 70

?

 

Legal admittance into presence of God with the veil – AD 70

?

 

Time of Reformation – AD 70

?

 

Spirits of just men made perfect – AD 70

?

 

Old Testament fulfilled and legally annulled – AD 70

?

 

Grace triumphant over law – AD 70

 

Don answered our question scripturally in his second affirmative, saying the cross triumphed over the law.  But he takes it back in his third affirmative when he argues that the law was valid and imposed until AD 70 and had to be independently removed before grace could enter!  (Don never did explain to us how the cross could triumph over the law, and not triumph over it at the same time. If the law still held man under the debt of sin after the cross, there obviously was no triumph!)   Don states “removal of Torah was essential for man’s justification after all!” (emphasis in original). Don states, “Torah had to end in order for forgiveness, entrance into the MHP and life to become realities!” Dear reader, we deny this totally and emphatically.  The law was taken away, not so grace could enter in, but because it was a mere schoolmaster to bring us to Christ; it was a system of types and shadows pointing to Jesus.  Once Jesus was come, there was no further utility in the Mosaic system; it had served its provisional need and purpose and so was annulled.  Nothing more or less.

That the law had to be removed for grace to enter is very serious error. Don states “Torah…prevented man from entering the MHP due to its inability to forgive.” According to Don, “the negative power of Torah was such (in its failure to provide forgiveness) that as long as it stood, no one could enter the MHP!”  Read that again. Why does Don insist that Torah had to be removed before grace could enter?  BECAUSE TORAH COULD NOT FORGIVE!  According to Don, it possessed some mysterious “negative power” that forestalled grace and the cross of Christ!  Don, how does the inability of Torah to forgive prevent the addition of grace?  Explain that for us, please!  What is the mysterious “negative power” you mention?  We deserve your explanation on this.  I will gladly ignore that you have produced even a single verse showing the Old Testament was valid after the cross, and give you a fourth affirmative to explain for us what this mysterious “negative power” is. So, by all means, please provide us with this information.  Moreover, please explain how the animal sacrifices, dietary restrictions, and other items of the law could forestall the atoning power of Christ’s blood?  What is there in the continuing temple ritual that allegedly over-powered Jesus’ sacrifice and prevented it from providing forgiveness of sins until it was taken away? 

Dear reader, this is the whole debate right here.  If Don cannot provide some lucid, rational explanation from scripture about this mysterious “negative power” in Torah that prevented the power of Christ’s cross from bringing grace until Torah was allegedly removed in AD 70, then you must know his proposition is lost.  Don MUST explain this. He said it; so he obviously has something in mind, and we are giving him a whole fourth affirmative for our edification and instruction.  Preterism must settle this issue of Max Kingism once and for all so it free itself of these errors and move on.  Will Don accept?  Dare he refuse? 

Dear reader, obviously, there is nothing in the temple ritual or anywhere in the law that can forestall God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  NOTHING.  Law doesn’t prevent grace, it invites it!  The inability of Torah to forgive in no way implies it also possessed a negative power to prevent or forestall forgiveness of sin!  What is Don’s proof of this “mysterious “negative power?”  He has none!  The whole concept is just one more bare assertion by Don without one “book, chapter, and verse” to back it up.  To the contrary, grace triumphed over law.  It is the addition of grace that saves us, not removal of the law.  Proof of this is seen in the moral law and the law of sin and death (“the wages of sin is death” Rom. 6:23).  The moral law and law of sin and death have never been removed. Sin is as much condemned by God’s moral law today as it ever was!  Fornication, adultery, theft, and murder are as unlawful, sinful, and condemned by God today as under the law of Moses.  This has never changed and never will!  Don, is it unlawful and sinful today to murder, rape or commit incest?  Of course it is!  Were these laws codified and part of the law of Moses? Yes, of course they were.  Did these laws exist before Moses. Yes. Do they exist now; did removal of the law of Moses remove these laws? No, of course not.  Does God’s law condemning immorality and sin prevent men from finding grace in Christ today? God forbid, may it never be!  The very fact that the moral law (much of which was codified by Moses) continues to condemn today, but men can find forgiveness proves – irrefutably – that removal of law is in no way necessary for God’s addition of grace!

Don’s argument that the law had to be removed before grace could enter or obtain is serious, serious error; it overthrows the power and efficacy of Christ’s cross.  It changes the very mechanism of salvation from the triumph of grace over law, to grace accomplished removal of law, fundamentally changing and perverting the gospel of Christ.

 

 

 

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