Written Debates

Jackson-Preston Debate: Cessation of the Charismata– Jackson's Second Affirmative

Jackson – V – Preston Formal Written Debate
Topic: The Cessation of the Charismatic Gifts of the Spirit
Richard Jackson’s Second Affirmative

‘For the kingdom of God is not in the sphere of speech, but in that of power'(1 Cor. 4:20 Wuest)

Christian greetings to all those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord

Grace to you & peace from God our Father & the Lord Jesus Christ.

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS…

Once again i find myself in the affirmative of a proposition that i wholeheartedly believe to be the true teaching of the scriptures. Despite theological attempts to explain the obvious absence of the miraculous within Christendom in general…& in certain denominations in particular(especially so since the reformation)…the Christ centered & bible believing christian community remains eager to seek & to receive the fullness of the Spirit which Christ gives to His church at all times, & in all places.

Mr. Preston responded to one argument only. I proposed in my first speech that miracles & gifts of the Holy Ghost are for the church today because…
1). The church of Christ was formed & established in that biblical time period called the ‘Last Days’… & which is predicted, among other things, to be a time period during which supernatural manifestations of the Spirit become universalized among God’s people(Acts 2)
2). ‘Signs & wonders are predicted to follow them who believe the message of the gospel(Mark 16)
3). Miracles & gifts of the Holy Spirit accompany the proclamation of the gospel(Heb.2, Mark 16:20).

THOSE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES OUGHT NOT TO THROW STONES. DON PRESTON…WHERE ARE YOU???? I AM DRIVING THE TEAM NOW, NOT YOU! YOU FOLLOW ME!

But i know that he will follow…where & when he gets the itch to do so.

Mr. Preston embraced a new theory of prophecy a few years back, & he has thence produced a whole re-casting of the biblical data relative to the second advent of Christ for His church. It is a sad day indeed…when good men like my opponent, get themselves bewitched into gnostic explanations of christian fundamentals. If my brother’s error was a simple but excessive ‘realized eschatology’…who would not forgive him? But his system of ‘full & consistent’ preterism so-called demands such a radical revision of ‘those things which are most assuredly believed among us’ that & mark my words…a whole ‘new’ Christianity will develop from this little leaven(1 Cor.5:6).

I sincerely pray that Mr. Preston never turns this new & novel interpretive method on the whole of biblical truth & privatize every essential doctrine of the christian faith because of the light(?)which has come to him! If the sincere congregationalist preacher J Stuart Russell(1816-1895) had known what wildfire theories might come of his 561 page book(The Parousia)…he may have chosen to speculate his theories in private. This is not to say that this 19th preterist denied(like Preston)a ‘yet future advent’ of Christ to this world. That was left to those future disciples who got ‘more light’ than the Rev. Russell himself. They are those who became greater than their master in that they discovered the ‘truth’ THAT THE FALL OF JERUSALEM BY THE ROMAN ARMIES IN A.D. 70 WAS IN FACT THE SECOND & FINAL COMING OF CHRIST ANTICIPATED BY THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH. Thus we have in the church today those men who have been sent by God(?)to show wherein a traditional belief & hope in a personal, visible, & literal FUTURE coming of Christ in which all things reach their final destination & consummation is a gross & carnal misunderstanding of God’s prophetic word. Campbell, Bales, Wallace, Southern, Tant, Hobbs, Woods, Nichols, Warren, Harding, J.W. McGarvey, Warlick, V.E. Howard(are you listening?), D. Lipscomb, Johnny Ramsey…together with all of the great lights of the church not mentioned…past & present…are now to be corrected by Beagle, King, & Preston in the matter of the Lord’s personal return from Heaven for His own. Bosh!

Thank you debate administrator’s for this opportunity, in my second affirmative presentation, to once again affirm truth, & expose error.

GOD’S PROPHETIC WORD & THE ISSUE BEFORE US…

I will not at this time review some of the matters in Don’s first negative of this present proposition simply because i have no obligation to do so. I ask Don kindly to give more of his attention to the topic under discussion…i promise him we will meet again on specific prophetic themes, especially on the ideas of ‘radical imminence, radical consistency, & radical spiritualization’.

Clearly then, the issue before us is whether or not the present ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church includes the presence of the miraculous. It is my contention that, according to the overall teaching of the New Testament, that no divine discontinuance of miracles & spiritual gifts should be anticipated in the gospel age. Divine manifestations of supernatural power which were associated with Christ, His apostles, & present in all the early church communities are yet with us, & with us for the very same reasons they were originally given.

Mr. Preston eventually takes up my argument on the ‘Last days’. Here i will follow him, & where he dies, there i will bury him. But first.

PRETERISTIC PRESUMPTIONS…

Mr. Preston is dangerously close to slipping into a denial of all orthodox Christianity with such statements as…”Jesus said that his coming in judgment of all men would be like ‘in the glory of my Father’ i.e as the Father had come many times(Matt 16:27). As i show in my ‘Like Father, Like Son, On Clouds of Glory book’, YHVH HAD NEVER COME LITERALLY, VISIBLY, BODILY. Thus, Jesus’ coming in judgment, the coming of Matthew 25:31 for instance(but with Don ALL such references are figurative expressions only), was NOT TO BE A LITERAL, VISIBLE, BODILY COMING OF CHRIST”. Something about those words of Don gave me a slight chill. This private spiritualization of language has been the basis of EVERY CULTIC perversion of the christian faith since Swedenborg in 1745 received a divine summons to become ‘both a seer & revelator of the things of the spiritual world, & simultaneously of the SPIRITUAL TRUTH & DOCTRINE WHICH UNDERLIES THE LITERAL & SYMBOLICAL SENSE OF THE SCRIPTURES.

Such words as literal & visible, personal & perceivable, physical & bodily, are the first to go in any re-invention of biblical Christianity. Will Mr. Preston eventually deny that the first advent of Christ was literal, visible, & bodily? Of course he can’t because the facts are before him…but had my opponent lived in ancient Bethlehem with those who were waiting for the coming of the divine child born & son given through the miracle of a virgin birth…& whose very place of birth was predicted by holy men who were moved to tell it…who knows, i say, what this learned man would have told those ancient worthies regarding their silly notions of literal fulfillment(Lk. 2:25 & 26). And what of the Savior’s death, or His resurrection, or His ascension unto God’s right hand? Will Don accuse the historic church of here also being too grossly literal for any educated mind? I fear that Mr. Preston’s hermeneutic
ways, if continued unchecked, would undermine the whole gospel of Christ AS TRADITIONALLY UNDERSTOOD by the best lights the church has ever known!

I am not suggesting that Mr. Preston is representative of any cult. But i am suggesting that his method of seeking out the inner meaning of scripture by a NON-LITERAL approach WHEN THE CONTEXT DOES NOT DEMAND SUCH is the quickest way to develop another gospel, which, says Paul, is not another, but only a dangerous mutation from the true.

DON
K. PRESTON & ‘THE LAST DAYS’…

Now the monumental question before the reading audience at the moment is whether or not Mr. Preston is correct in his assertion that the ‘Last Days’ as a biblical term is now past. If this assertion were true, we would expect to find the prevailing conditions which are characteristic of the ‘Last Days’ as described in the bible to have ceased, since Don says Christ’s final appearance to this world was fulfilled in the first century. Furthermore, we should find those features unique to the eternal state commencing at or beyond this invisible return(in 70 A.D). But is this the situation we see?

Just where does the church find itself in it’s present stage of existence? On earth or in Heaven? If the ‘Last Days’ are past because they have been terminated with by the Second Coming of Christ in 70 A.D.(per pantelism)…then death has been destroyed, the dead have been raised incorruptable & we the living have been changed, the Kingdom has been delivered up to God the Father, & God is now all & in all(1 Cor. 15) & all is joy unspeakable & full of glory! I can hardly stand it! REALITY CHECK MR. PRESTON!!! But reality checks & logical inconsistencies will not discourage the full blown pantelist from his A.D. 70ism. As i mentioned previously… obvious unfulfilled prophecy as demonstrated through the continuing cycle of life, the presence of sin sickness, disease & death, the unbroken curse upon creation, the imperfection & immaturity of the body of Christ, the vast majority of the nations continuing in defiance & unbelief, the world, the flesh, & the devil making war upon both the body & soul of every child of God, a creation groaning to be delivered of it’s curse…all of which indicate the absence of full redemption. IF THIS IS ‘AS GOOD AS IT GETS’…MR PRESTON’S HEAVEN IS IS A HELL.

Traditionally, redemption was to be total & final…encompassing all of creation(spiritual & physical)bringing a culmination & completion to redemptive history. The preterist/pantelist redemption is only partial(spiritual)& continual(infinite history). Look around you this evening Don. Does the present state of things(from 70 A.D. to 2010)look much like a new creation? I didn’t think so. But no matter to this innovative & creative preacher. Every passage which speaks of total/final redemption is spiritualized to mean what he wants it to mean…& anyone who looks for a literal fulfillment is simply simplistic & carnal. I predict this movement will in time tinker with the doctrine of sin & salvation & develop a completely new gospel, something along the lines of a New Age Metaphysical New Thought church of Christ! And by the way Don, just how do you explain the individual believer’s death & resurrection since the church corporately was raised in A. D. 70? Indeed, in the ‘world to come’ we do NOT DIE(Luke 20:36). Since Don says the endless age of the New Creation began in 70 A.D…there is also now no marriage or giving in marriage after the resurrection(Luke 20: 34-36). Do you still take take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week since in so doing you would show forth the Lord’s real(visible & physical)death UNTIL HE COME(1 Cor. 11:26). But you say the Roman invasion upon Jerusalem was the Second Coming of Christ…so don’t bother. The eschatological significance of the Lord’s Supper ceases with the Second Coming of Christ…& Don knows this. But enough.

The first & second advents of Christ are like bookends between which is that period of time referred to in scripture as the ‘Last Days’. Mr. Preston would agree. He also agrees that this time period, according to the scriptures, began with the first coming of Christ & can only terminate with the Second Coming of Christ. Don & i differ on the nature & manner of the Lord’s promised return to this world. Now then, the character & course of the ‘Last Days’ are clearly set forth by both the Old & New Testament scriptures. I will confine myself to the ‘Last Days’ for the church…since there are references to the ‘latter days’ of Israel as well as the ‘last Days’ for the church(Is. 2:15)(2 Tim. 3:1)). I insist that Mr. Preston respond to the evil character & course of this age, the age which now is, as it is continually contrasted with the glory & indescribable beauty of the that wonderful world which is to come…HEAVEN ABOVE & A REDEEMED EARTH BELOW(1 Pet. 1:9, Col. 1:5, 2 Pet. 3:13).

What are the prevailing conditions which identify this biblical time period(referred to as ‘Last Days’)? It is always spoken of as an evil age(Gal. 1:4) Satan is said to be the god of ‘this age'(2 Cor. 4:4). He & his hellish demons blind the minds of the unbelieving, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. Hence, he is called the ‘the prince of the world'(Jn. 14:30) & the whole world is said to lie in the evil one(1 John. 5:19 ASV)). His throne is here below(Rev. 2:13). He is the head of ‘the world rulers of this darkness(Eph. 6: 12))…the leader of the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places(Eph. 6:12). He is ‘the prince of the powers of the air, the Spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience…in accordance to whose will & dictate all sinners walk…’according to the course(age)of this world(Eph. 2:1-2).
The church is warned that it should not be fashioned according to this age(Rom 12:2), because the Lord Jesus gave Himself for us that He might deliver us out of it & out of all complicity with it. During this age the true church can expect suffering & persecution(2 Tim 3:12)…especially so since another characteristic of the age is that Christ, the King, is absent…& during His absence his servants are amid a hostile citizenship administrating His goods(Luke 19:12-14).

Does Don adopt a little post millennialism at this phase of his preterism & suggest that gradual improvement is ahead for the church & for the world…a hope that the world will be absorbed into the church until at last the world will become the church? Bosh!

This inter-advent period is described throughout the New Testament as unwholesome & evil. It is marked by spiritual darkness, ungodliness, & unrestrained lustful passion(Titus 2:11-12, 2 Pet. 3:3). Unbelief in the world, apostasy in the church, & a groaning creation is the REALITY OF THE SITUATION. The ONLY HOPE & PROSPECT OF A CHANGE FROM THESE DISTRESSFUL CIRCUMSTANCES IS CONNECTED WITH THE COMING OF THE LORD(Philip. 3:21 Titus 2:13-14).

But what will you do with these new scoffers? Mr Preston will simply deny this as materialistic & lacking faith…& that the wonderful world of tomorrow is now here…Christ came again in 70 A.D. & since then eternity is now…Heaven is here & the church has(since 70 A.D.) been living in the all glorious endless age of the New Creation, an unfinished redemption… sinful world without end!

Any student of scripture can see that the prevailing circumstances which are present in the last days, & those blessed conditions which come AFTER the last days as a direct result of the Lord’s coming again clash hopelessly with the prophetic pronouncements of Don K. Preston. His new found understanding & revision of the churches traditional faith fails both scripture & reason. Think on it.

Mr. Preston’s observation: “If we are in the last days, then i agree with Richard that the charismatic gifts of the Spirit should be operative in the church today”(DKP). Don knows, admits, & confesses that a completed New Testament in writing had nothing to do with an anticipated termination of the charismata. The only event that could eliminate the need for such supernatural manifestations would be the RETURN OF CHRIST FROM HEAVEN. If only one of the 318 references to the predicted return of Christ does not have a invisible/spiritualized fulfillment in the pa
st…then there is yet a future coming of Christ, we are still living in that period denominated in scripture as the last days, & ‘gifts of the Spirit’ ought to be available to the church today(DKP).

Will Mr. Preston face squarely the complex inconsistencies & logical contradictions of pantelist eschatology? I predict the knots will become to tight for him to unravel.

Miracles & spiritual gifts of the Holy Ghost are for church today because this present age is the last days…fulfilling prophetic predictions of a time period in which the Spirit’s charismatic power is universalized among God’s people.

ARGUMENT #4…BELIEVERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

It is my contention that after a person becomes a christian in response to the gospel(faith, repentance & baptism)…there is both forgiveness & a permanent & resident experience of the Holy Spirit(regeneration). But this is not the believer’s last encounter with the Spirit. There are, according to the scriptures, multiple, subsequent experiences of the Spirit’s activity(Jn. 20:22, Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31). This of course is not taught in church of Christ schools for evangelism. Right Don? But this is only one error in this rigid religious system. In fact, the gift of the Holy Spirit in moral transformation is the greatest of all miracles! The change within a man as a result of the coming of the Spirit into the heart is no minor miracle! If the old creation of the material universe is to be looked upon as demonstrating the divine & supernatural power of the blessed Trinity of God…how in heaven’s name can the creative work of the Spirit in the regeneration of the soul & expressly called a ‘new creation'(2 Cor. 5:17)be called the ‘ordinary & non-miraculous’ working of the Spirit?

The activity of the Holy Spirit to & in the believer is not restricted to conversion, as wonderful as that is. Believers are encourage to be ‘filled with the Spirit’ which is descriptive of a continuous, ongoing experience & appropriation of the Holy Spirit(Eph. 5:18). This in itself sets the stage for individual & corporate church life which can include operating in the power of the Spirit to be & to do that which we could not do in ourselves. Let Mr. Preston confine the ministry of the Spirit to His influence through the word alone. I would like to see Don’s expression if the Holy Spirit ever showed up at at one of his ‘gospel meetings’ in confirmation of the word preached! Imagine that if you will(smile).

The very expression ‘filled with the Spirit’ invokes the idea that we are now moving not merely in our own steam. The disciples were filled with the Spirit & spoke in languages unknown to them(Acts 2:4). Later, during a special ‘prayer meeting’…they were all again ‘filled with the Spirit’ & entered into an unnatural boldness to share the gospel in the face of possible opposition(Acts 4:31). Peter is filled with the Spirit in order to respond to the circumstances demanded of him(Acts 4:8). Believers in the last days are filled with the Spirit & do prophecy(Acts.2:8). The book of Acts clearly identifies the church of Christ as a charismatic community who not only possesses the Holy Spirit as a resident experience…but who continually receive fresh encounters of the Spirit upon & within them as an enablement for service & for ministry(Acts 6:3, 6:5, 6:8, Gal. 3:5), etc.

None of these subsequent fillings of the Spirit are restricted to the apostles only. All believers are encouraged to seek a Spirit filled life. The filling of the Spirit is a biblical experience in which the power of God finds expression in the life of those who believe the message of the gospel. This empowerment of the Spirit upon & within the christian church, as mentioned above, cannot be limited to the apostles, nor restricted to a so-called apostolic age. The empowered christian life is the normal christian life. Anything less is sub-standard to the New Testament pattern & experience.
Miracles & gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the church today because believers subsequent to conversion of encourage to be ‘filled with the Spirit’.

I demand of Mr. Preston in his second negative of this proposition to address the following arguments which i have submitted to this forum on why i believe & teach that miracles & spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the church of Christ today. I am under no obligation to submit further arguments until he responds to what has been previously submitted.

Therefore…to summarize the arguments thus far:

1. IN THE LAST DAYS THE SPIRIT EMPOWERS ALL BELIEVERS WITH MIRACULOUS MANIFESTATIONS IN FULFILLMENT OF OLD TESTAMENT HOPE(HE HAS PARTLY ADDRESSED THIS ARGUMENT).

2. SIGNS & WONDERS FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL

3. MIRACLES & GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ACCOMPANY THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL

4. BELIEVERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO BE ‘FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT’ WHICH IS ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH GOD SUPERNATURALLY EXPRESSES HIMSELF IN THE CONTINUING LIFE, WITNESS, & MINISTRY OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE.

Will Mr. Preston answer my arguments? Will he by his theological commitments continue to straitjacket the manifold ministries of the Holy Spirit & consign the power of God & Christ to the first generation of believers only. Will he insist that a gospel in word only is sufficient to convert the sinner & sustain the believer? Does he even bother to preach to sinners anymore since reading ‘the spirit of prophecy’ by brother King & now knows(?)that ALL IS FULFILLED… THAT THE LAST DAYS ARE PAST(WITH CHRIST’S 70 A.D. COMING)& THAT THE CHURCH IS IN HEAVEN ON EARTH IN A WORLD WITHOUT END?

Watch carefully as Mr. Preston explains himself into a barren wilderness of hopeless & endless existence. Meanwhile…i ask the reading audience to focus upon the real & only issue of this current discussion.

Christ’s richest blessings upon you all.

R. Jackson

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