Jackson- V – Preston Formal Written Debate
Topic: The Cessation of the Charismata
Preston’s Final Negative
This is the final presentation in this debate, and I want to thank Richard for his cordiality. I am however, deeply disappointed that he has adamantly refused to engage in any serious exegesis. His final affirmative is a classical example of someone who has no solid evidence to buttress their position, so they quote other people who support their view.
It was my understanding that this debate is based on the scriptures, not what the patristic fathers said. Was I mistaken on that? No. However, in reality, that is the “best” Richard can offer us. So, he cites one early writer after another, and calls on me to state whether those men were wrong. He then calls on me to repent for differing with them!
Richard, which of the views of those fathers should we focus on? Is it Ignatius who said that Christians must “regard the bishop as the Lord himself”? Do you take his view that it is almost a Christian duty to seek martyrdom? Or, do we accept the view of Justin the Martyr who said that the only reason for conjugal relations between a man and his wife is procreation? Do we accept Iranaeus’ view that Jesus lived to be over 50?
Richard, why do you reject the virtually unanimous view of the early patristics that the Great Commission was indeed fulfilled in the first century.
Do you accept the testimony of Polycarp, when he said that John the apostle refused to be in the same building with Cerinthus, who taught chiliasm– a form of Richard’s eschatology– calling Cerinthus “the enemy of truth”?
How about the widespread patristic view that the seventy weeks of Daniel were fulfilled in AD 70, Richard, why do you not accept that? (Hippolytus and Iranaeus are believed to be among the first to suggest a divided 70 weeks).
Richard, why not accept Athanasius’ declaration about the end of the prophetic office: “So if there is still king or prophet or vision among the Jews, they do well to deny that Christ is come; but if there is neither king nor vision, and since that time all prophecy has been sealed and city and temple taken, how can they be so irreligious, how can they so flaunt the facts, as to deny Christ Who has brought it all about?” (My emphasis)
Or why not accept his statements concerning death and the resurrection: “Have no fears then. Now that the common Savior of all has died on our behalf, we who believe in Christ no longer die, as men died afore time, in fulfillment of the threat of the law. That condemnation has come to an end; and now that, by the grace of the resurrection, corruption has been banished and done away.” (Incarnation, ch. 4).
The point is that Richard– as anyone seeking to find doctrinal confirmation from the patristics– has to be selective of the patristics, for they say that his view of the kingdom was / is heretical. They say that the seventy weeks was fulfilled. They say the world mission was fulfilled. In my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air: The Wedding of the King of kings, I demonstrate that the early church believed that virtually every tenet of eschatology had been fulfilled prior to, or in the events of AD 70. Not as types of something else coming in the by and by, but as fulfillment of the prophecies. Yet, Richard just blithely dismisses this, to emphasize that they still believed in miracles.
Did the patristics believe miracles continued to their day? Yes. But to take the patristics as the final authority is tenuous at very best. And the fact that Richard spent so much time on the patristics and precious little on scripture is powerful testimony that he cannot sustain his view from the one and only source that matters.
You must not miss this self contradiction by Richard. He chided a church of Christ minister who said that it would take observing a genuine miracle for him to change his theology. Richard says “See, his authority is not really the Bible after all, but experience!” But, what does Richard do? He presents the uninspired, ad hominem, testimony of the patristics writers, and says that if I don’t agree with their testimony that I should repent! So, who is it that is appealing to “experience and not scripture?” In sharp and revealing contrast, I have not appealed to a single “experience,” although I certainly could, of the failure of so-called healers and wonder workers! My appeal has been strictly and exclusively to the scripture. I have called on Richard repeatedly to offer us solid exegesis, solid hermeneutics, and sound logic. He has persistently refused and failed to do so. Instead, he now concludes with an emotional appeal to the patristic writers. This is more than a little revealing!
I want the readers to note that Richard completely ignored my challenge to debate the issue of the imminence of the end of the age as stated in the New Testament. Although he said that we could do so, prompting my challenge and offer of propositions, Richard acted as if I had not accepted his suggestion. But, reader, here is the issue, and Richard knows, deep in his soul, that he cannot sustain his theology if the NT statements that the Lord’s coming and the end of the age was near, and coming soon in the lifetime of the first century saints are to be taken literally. Do not fail to ponder why Richard would totally ignore my invitation, when he is the one that said we would have opportunity to debate the issue.
WHY NO PROPHETS TODAY?
I have repeatedly noted that Richard admits that there are no living apostles and inspired prophets today. Richard has ignored my arguments on this until his last affirmative, perhaps hoping that I would not notice his single response. But I cannot let this pass!
Richard says the reason why we have no living apostles and prophets in the church today is due to unbelief and apostasy. This is specious. Notice:
Zechariah 13:2 predicted that in the end times– and don’t forget that Richard says we are in the last days– the prophetic office would cease!! So, that leaves us with only two choices:
Either the last days have come and been fulfilled, meaning that the prophetic office has ceased in fulfillment of Zechariah, (Of course, if this is true, then Richard’s theology is falsified), or,
Richard’s argument must be considered, e.g. due to unbelief in the church, there are no prophets. Again, this argument is specious on several levels.
First, in the OT for example, it was during times of apostasy and unbelief that God sent the prophets! God sent His prophets specifically because of unbelief! Richard wants to turn that around and say that God– who is the same yesterday, today and forever, don’t forget– no longer sends His prophets during times of unbelief!! Of course, you will note that Richard gave us not one word of scripture in support of his claim.
Second, according to dispensational dogma, at the time of the worst apostasy in history, God will send His prophets (Revelation 11)! Now, if God is supposed to send His prophets at the height of the worst apostasy in history, why in the name of reason could there not be living apostles and prophets today? Yet, Richard has admitted that there are none.
This leaves us with the fact that Zechariah 13 has been fulfilled– the prophetic office has ceased to function. The charismata have ceased.
Third, where is Richard’s support that some of the gifts, but not all of them, are to be present? Has he not told us repeatedly during this debate that all of the gifts of the Spirit are operative? Well, if that is true, then there should be inspired prophets in the church today. His claim that the apostles’ office was distinctive carries only limited merit. The point is that there should be prophets like Agabus alive and operative in the church today if Richard’s doctrine is true, but, again, he has admitted that
there are none.
Fourth, Richard contradicts his own claims. Notice what he said: “The living presence & power of Christ in supernatural activity(healing, prophecy, tongues)is released through the believer according to Mark Chapter 16. How long? Until the end of age.” (My emphasis, DKP) Okay, so on the one hand Richard tells us that there are no living prophets today, and then he turns around and says that the supernatural prophetic office is operative today, and will be until the end of the age! Again, this is logically self contradictory.
Richard and the End of the Old Covenant Age
My friend’s desperation manifested itself in regard to the end of the age. Although he admitted early on that the Mosaic age ended in AD 70, he came to realize the danger of that admission. So, he claimed that the Mosaic Law (and thus, the Mosaic Age) ended at the cross! You must understand why Richard did such an about face and now places such emphasis on Torah passing at the cross.
The NT writers affirm that the end of the age was near, that Christ’s coming was at hand in the first century. The charismata were to cease at the end of the age. Thus, to admit that the end of the age was in AD 70 demands the cessation of the charismata in AD 70. So, Richard, although he earlier admitted that the end of the age, and Torah, occurred in AD 70, now retreats from that damaging admission and takes the view (that I once held myself, by the way) that the Law passed away at the cross. This position is necessary for him, and here is why.
If Richard can successfully argue that the end of the age was at the cross, that means that the post-cross NT predictions of the end of the age can be applied to the end of the current Christian age. This view is, however, false. I made the following argument from Galatians 4– an argument ignored by Richard:
There were two women, who represented the two covenants. There were two sons, representing Old Covenant Israel after the flesh (Ishmael), and Israel after the Spirit (Isaac). The children of the flesh (Old Covenant Israel), was persecuting the children of the Spirit (Christians, the children of Abraham by faith). Paul said: “Cast out the bondwoman (the Old Testament), and her son” (Old Covenant Israel). Now, Richard’s view demands that Israel and the Old Covenant was cast out at the cross (although, remember, he early on admitted that this occurred in AD 70). This is patently false. Galatians 4 shows that the casting out of Israel had not taken place at the cross or Pentecost. (Of course, this totally devastates Richard’s theory of a postponed 70th Week!) Richard’s claim that the Old Covenant was removed at the Cross is simply, and indubitably, wrong. Here is the argument in simplified form:
The Old Covenant and the Old Covenant people would be cast out for persecuting the New Covenant seed of promise i.e. Christians.
The Old Covenant people did not persecute Christians prior to the Cross (e.g. the New Covenant people of promise did not yet exist!).
Therefore, the Old Covenant people, and the Old Covenant, was not cast out at the Cross.
Likewise, the Hebrews writer said that the Old Covenant– note, the Covenant, not just an external form of the Covenant, was ready, when he wrote, to vanish away. And don’t forget Ice’s comments that the complete fulfillment of Mosaic Covenant wrath was fulfilled in AD 70. Well, if Covenant Wrath was applied, then the Covenant was still in effect! You don’t apply covenant wrath if the covenant is dead!
And, speaking of the New Covenant, and the passing of the Old, Richard argued that the New Covenant promised to Israel has not yet been made. Yet, amazingly, he argues that the church currently enjoys the benefits of that non-existing covenant! I challenged him to give us some exegetical proof for such a claim, but we received not a word of proof. I challenged him to give us some logical support for the idea that anyone could enjoy the benefits of anything that does not exist! He was totally silent, but, his silence speaks eloquently and forcefully to us.
One of the most telling times in this debate has been the issue of what happens to the gospel of Christ in the millennium, in Richard’s proposed eschatology. As I noted, the gospel– and Richard agrees– forbids physical circumcision, temple worship, animal sacrifices, pilgrimages, etc.. And in Christ there are no Jew / Gentile distinctions. In Richard’s paradigm, however, all of these things are restored in the millennium– even the Jew / Gentile distinctions!
Now, here is Richard’s dilemma, which I challenged him to respond to– but of course, he didn’t:
In the millennium, physical circumcision, temple worship, animal sacrifices, pilgrimages, Jew / Gentile distinctions are all mandated by Jesus under the promised “New Covenant.” Anyone not observing these things will be condemned, cursed by YHVH (Zechariah 14).
Under Christ and the gospel covenant, physical circumcision, temple worship, animal sacrifices, pilgrimages, Jew / Gentile distinctions are all condemned by Jesus!
Furthermore, as I have noted repeatedly– again, Richard has silently ignored this– the gospel of Christ will never pass away! I noted the citation from Fruchtenbaum, a leading dispensationalist, who says that the gospel will never be inoperable! And of course, this is precisely what Matthew 24:35 affirms.
So, I asked Richard, repeatedly, what happens to the gospel of Christ in the millennium? I have noted that according to Paul, if a person is physically circumcised, observes Jew/Gentile distinctions, offers animal sacrifices, (all of which would be in obedience to the “New Covenant” in the millennium) then they forfeit Christ, and are fallen from grace, and are under obligation to keep Torah– Not the gospel! (Galatians 5:1-5).
So, Richard’s paradigm presents us with the insurmountable dilemma: Obey the Jeremiad New Covenant that will demand physical circumcision, animal sacrifices, Jew/Gentile distinctions, etc. But, to obey that Covenant is to fall from grace, and forfeit any benefit of Christ.
On the other hand, per Richard’s view, if a person is obedient to Christ and the gospel, and thus refuses to be physically circumcised, offer animal sacrifices, honor the Jew / Gentile distinction (not much fun for us Gentiles!!!), then they are condemned by YHVH!
I ask therefore, that the readers ponder again the question that Richard totally ignored: What happens to the gospel of Christ in the millennium? If Richard agrees that the gospel remains in effect during the millennium, then followers of Christ– those who obey the gospel– cannot obey the Jeremiad New Covenant! As a result, they are condemned!
Consider Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:35– “my word will never pass away”– in light of Richard’s amazing statement: “The cannon scripture as we know it was not even anticipated by the apostles of Christ…& thus I will prejudge Don’s view on this matter of miracles & spiritual gifts vs. the scriptures as a form of ‘biblical idolatry’” This is patently wrong. Jesus said that his word would never pass away! Did that not entail the canonization of his word? How is his word to continue forever, if not through “canonization” and “inscripturation”?
Consider this: The apostles never appealed to the miraculous– or personal testimony– as authoritative above the scriptures. They invariably posited supremacy to the scriptures that they were writing. Paul, writing to a church richly blessed with the charismata, corrected their abuses of the gifts, and then said that if anyone wanted to claim inspiration or spiritual gifts, they had to submit to his (Paul’s) writings as authoritative (1 Corinthians 14:37)!
John, in full knowledge of the impending cessation of the charismata, wrote of the works of Christ to produce faith (John 20:30-31). Now, if Richard is right, there was no real need for John to even write th
e scriptures, for inspiration was to continue in the church until the parousia!
Likewise, Peter said that he wrote his epistles to ensure that his audience would have what they needed to know after his demise (2 Peter 1:12-14). But again, if Richard is right, there was no need for Peter to have written his epistles, for the continuance of the charismata would ensure that they have and know those things. The continuance of the prophetic office today should provide us with infallible, continuing record and interpretation of what the apostles verbalized. Per Richard’s doctrine, in truth, there is no need for the Scriptures at all!
Finally, Peter spoke of Paul’s writings as inspired and authoritative, thus, canonical (2 Peter 3:15f)! The NT writers affirm that it was the scriptures that were to continue, as authoritative and canonical, not the charismata. Richard is simply wrong on this important issue.
Do you see why Richard was totally silent in regard to the issue of the New Covenant? To acknowledge that Christ made the New Covenant which will never pass away means that the true end of the age was near in the first century, and that Richard’s view of a postponed kingdom, with a yet future end of the age is falsified. He had to ignore these arguments, for he has no answer for them.
For more on the passing of the Mosaic Law, and definitive proof that it was not nailed to the cross, see my debate with Kurt Simmons, posted on both of my websites. See my second negative, which is a study of the fulfillment of the feast days of Israel. Those who claim that Torah ended at the cross are in denial of Jesus’ statement that not one jot or one tittle of Torah could pass until it was all fulfilled, and, the feast days were not fulfilled until AD 70. Worse yet, for those who posit, as Richard does, the fulfillment of those feast days in the future, this demands that the Mosaic Law remains in effect today! I cannot say more of this here, since that would be to make a new argument. So, see my material in the Preston-Simmons Debate.
RICHARD’S FOUR (FIVE) ARGUMENTS
Richard made four affirmative arguments, and repeated them three times, with no supporting exegesis. He then added a fifth point on the unchanging nature of Christ.
1.) The charismata were to be operative “in the last days.”
2.) Signs and wonders would follow believers.
3.) Signs and wonders would empower the world mission.
4.) Miracles & spiritual gifts are for the church today because of the incredible power of personal prayer unto him who is the same yesterday and today and forever.
THE LAST DAYS
This is the foundational argument for Richard. The charismata were promised for and belong to “the last days” – “It shall come to pass that in the last days, I will pour out My Spirit…”
If we are in the last days, the charismata should be available to the believer.
If we are not in the last days, the charismata have ended.
Scripture does not provide, so far as I can determine, and so far as Richard understands it, for the continuance of the charismata beyond the Day of the Lord. On this we are agreed!
I have demonstrated that the term “last days” is referent to the consummative time when God would fulfilled His promises to Israel. The last days are Israel’s last days, as YHVH ended His relationship with one exclusive people, and offered His salvation to all men, in one body.
I have shown that the last days existed in the first century.
I have shown that the NT writers affirm, unequivocally, that Israel’s last days prophecies were being fulfilled in their generation, and that the end of the age– the end of Israel’s Covenant age– was near.
All that Richard has been able to do is first admit that Israel’s age ended in AD 70, but then turn around and say, “No, that can’t be right. It ended at the cross, when Torah was removed.” But wait! That can’t be right, for how can Israel’s age have been terminated at the cross, when, per Richard, God’s promises to Israel remain valid today, and they remain His covenant people?
I demonstrated, irrefutably, from Deuteronomy 32, Daniel 9 and Daniel 12 (not to mention several other passages), that Israel’s Covenant relationship with God was terminated in AD 70. That is when “the last days” came to their consummative termination, when “all things written” were fulfilled (Luke 21:22).
With the establishment and proof of this singular, foundational argument, Richard’s arguments #2-5 are falsified.
His argument #2 – Signs would follow the believer– True, but only for the last days, and we are not in the last days.
His argument #3 – Signs would empower the world mission– True, but in the last days, and we are not in the last days.
His argument #4 – Signs are related to prayer– True, but for the last days, and we are not in the last days.
His argument #5 – Signs spring from the unchanging nature of God. Unfortunately, even Richard understands that God has, through history, changed His methods of dealing with mankind!
THE WORLD MISSION
Let’s go back over this a bit. In regard to the completion of the world mission, Richard said: “it will do no good for Don to insist that this commission applies to the apostles only…& even if it did…wouldn’t the presence of Christ continue with them beyond A.D.70? The reading audience must know that the expression ‘end of the age’ used here & elsewhere can at times intertwine both a near & partial fulfillment…which may serve as a symbol & foreshadowing of more distant events which give a more exhaustive application to the prophetic word.”
1.) I presented explicit scriptural proof that the Great Commission was fulfilled in the first century. Did Richard mention even one of those verses that I produced? Not so much as a syllable! He just said that my argument can’t be true because of the traditions of the church! Well, let me say again that the early church fathers in great part said the Great Commission was fulfilled! (Origen did disagree).
2.) Richard once again asserts, with no exegesis whatsoever, that the term “end of the age” was typological, had dual meanings, and had near and far fulfillment. Folks, please, read his affirmative again, very carefully, and, with pencil and paper at hand. List the verses that he EXEGETES. Make note of the actual arguments, the grammatical arguments, the lexical arguments, the contextual arguments, anything! All that Richard does is repeatedly make unsubstantiated statements with no supporting proof. You will not find a single argument based on exegesis. This is insufficient and very revealing.
3.) Where did I ever say that the world mission applied only to the apostles? I said it was for the first century church, in a special eschatological sense, and they fulfilled that. I proved this from scripture, not by making unfounded claims.
4.) Richard’s claim that if the commission was fulfilled in the first century that there is no further need for evangelism is false. Even Isaiah anticipated evangelism in the New Creation (post parousia, Isaiah 65:17f; 66:19f). Paul envisioned beyond the end of the age, when the church would “make known the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 2:7). Revelation 21-22 likewise envisions evangelism beyond “the end.” The nations come into the city for healing, remember?
5.) What proof did Richard give us for the claim that “the end of the age” references have both “a near and far” application? Not one word of proof! And does his suggestion not surrender his objection to the objective imminence of the time statements of the NT? If the “at hand” statements applied to the truly near event of AD 70, then how do you take those very same statements and extrapolate them into a future 2000 years and counting? “At hand” does not mean “near– but also far!” This kind of argument makes a mockery of language.
6.) Note the self-defeating
nature of his argument. On the one hand he says the Mosaic age ended at the cross. Then, however, he turns around and says that the references to the impending end of the age had a “near application to AD 70″! Well, if the end of the Mosaic age was the cross, then there was no additional “end of the Mosaic age” that was coming! If it ended at the cross, it ended, period! But again, what was Richard’s proof for a “far” application of those “the end of all things has drawn near” statements? His “proof” was his presuppositional theology. It was an appeal to the eccentric, often aberrant patristic authors. It was not exegesis and sound logic.
The bottom line in regard to the world mission, as I pointed out repeatedly, was that Jesus said the gospel would be preached into all the word before, and as a sign of, the nearness of the end of the age. The completion of the Mission would be a sure sign that the end of the age was at hand: “When you see all of these things come to pass, then know that it is nigh, even at the door” (Matthew 24:32— See James 5:8-10). He said “This generation shall by no means pass until all of these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34). And, some of the very disciples that heard him say that declared that the end was near! The NT writers are emphatic and specific that the world mission was fulfilled, in that generation. They were either right, or they were wrong! If they were wrong, then we are debating for no reason, for they are false prophets. If they were right– and of course they were– then Richard’s theology is wrong.
By the way, just for fun and information, let me demonstrate Richard’s self contradictory position when he appeals to the patristics. Here is what Eusebius, who is often called “The Father of Church History,” said about the passing of the Law of Moses and the fulfillment of the World Mission:
“Moses himself foresaw by the Holy Spirit that when the New covenant was revived by Christ and preached to all nations, his own legislation would become superfluous, he rightly confined its influence to one place, so that if they were ever deprived of it and shut out of that national freedom, it might not be possible for them to carry out the ordinances of his law in a foreign country, and of necessity they would have to receive the new covenant announced by Christ. Moses had foretold this very thing and in due course Christ sojourned in this life, and the teaching of the new covenant was borne to all nations, and at once the Romans besieged Jerusalem and destroyed it and the Temple there. At once the whole of the Mosaic law was abolished, with all that remained of the Old Covenant, and the curse passed over to those who became lawbreakers because they obeyed Moses’ law, when its time had gone by, and still clung ardently to it, for at that very moment, the perfect teaching of the new Law was introduced in its place.” (Eusebius, (Proof of the Gospel, Bk. I, Ch. 6, Grand Rapids, Baker, 1981)34-35. All emphasis mine, DKP).
Do you see what kind of trouble Richard gets into when he appeals to the patristics? Eusebius affirms everything that Richard denies!
RICHARD’S NEW ARGUMENT
Richard introduces a new argument into the debate: “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Here is his “logic” (?):
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
In the past, Jesus performed miracles.
Therefore, Jesus must now, and forever perform miracles.
This argument is flawed in several ways:
First, it ignores the indisputable fact that God has changed His modus operandi through the ages! God once demanded bloody animal sacrifices, physical circumcision, Jew/Gentile distinction, pilgrimages, physical warfare, and the annihilation of the enemies of His people! Yet, my friend rejects these things as valid under the Christian age, does he not? He would argue vehemently that Christians are not to kill their enemies, as the radical Moslems do, correct?
Well, if my friend would argue that God has changed His modus operandi in regard to all of these practices, he cannot logically argue that the charismata must continue today, based on the “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” argument.
The second flaw in his argument is the fact that Richard acknowledges that at the parousia of Christ, the charismata is to cease! Well, would that not indicate that God’s modus operandi will change at that time? Surely! Thus, Richard’s acknowledgment that the charismata cease their function at the parousia destroys his appeal to “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever!”
Richard’s appeal to the “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” and his argument that since Jesus is the same, thus, believers can call on him in prayer for the charismata is falsified. Furthermore, consider:
1.) Since Richard has appealed to ad hominem arguments, let me give one here. Richard cites Jesus’ promise that with faith “you shall say to this mountain, be moved!” and it would be moved. Yet, I can assure the readers that Richard never has, and never will miraculously move an entire physical mountain through prayer.
2.) Likewise, Richard never has and never will raise the dead in the same manner that Jesus and his apostles did.
3.) Richard assumes and argues, without any exegesis, that God must answer prayer miraculously. This is simply false. Paul had a three fold prayer in Romans 15:30f and the Lord answered his prayer– not necessarily the way Paul desired, but He answered – and there was not one miracle involved! Thus, prayer does not demand the miraculous.
MY ARGUMENTS IGNORED BY RICHARD
Notice now that Richard completely, of necessity, ignored my following affirmative and negative arguments:
I proved that the Jews knew of only two over-arching ages: The age of Temple and Torah and the age of Messiah and the New Covenant. The age of Temple and Torah was to end, the age of the New Covenant was to never end. Richard actually acknowledged that the Old Covenant age ended in AD 70, and that Christ came in AD 70!
I showed from Matthew 24:2f that the disciples– who were not confused or mistaken– linked the end of the age with the destruction of the Temple. Richard did not even attempt to disprove this argument. Since the end of the age was to be at the destruction of the Temple, this falsifies Richard’s argument that Torah ended at the cross.
I proved that the Christian age has no end. Richard gave not a word of rebuttal, but simply continues to insist that the current Christian age will end. But, assertion is not proof! Let the reader fully understand that this one argument– the unending nature of Christ’s kingdom age– which is the current age– totally destroys Richard’s theology.
I have appealed repeatedly to Matthew 24:35 where Jesus said that his word, the gospel, will never pass away. As noted extensively above, this presents insurmountable difficulties for Richard’s theology, and Richard ignored it through presentation after presentation.
I made extensive argument (multiple pages!) from Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses, showing that it limits eschatological fulfillment to Israel’s last days– not the Christian age– and terminated in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. That is the time when the martyrs were vindicated (Revelation 19:1-2). This argument alone is full vindication of my affirmative and negative position, but, Richard refused to even address the issue!
I proved that Daniel 9:24 predicted the time of the fulfillment of all prophecy– in AD 70, and that Jesus posited the fulfillment of all things written at that time (Luke 21:22). Richard agreed that to seal up vision and prophecy meant to fulfill all prophecy, but simply denied that AD 70 fulfilled all things written. He gave us no evidence, just his repeated insistence that AD 70– in spite of Jesus’ affirmation– could not be the fulfillment of all things that are written.
I proved further that there is no 2000 year– so far– gap in Daniel 9. This is a devastating refutation of Richard’s position. All that he could do in response was to reiterate– with no exegesis whatsoever– his claim that there is a gap in the text. Simply stated, if there is no gap in the text of Daniel 9:24-27, then Richard’s theology is false. Jesus and the NT writers knew nothing of a gap. They said that the OT prophecies were being fulfilled in their day.
I demonstrated from Daniel 12 that the end of the age resurrection occurred in AD 70– thus positing the prophecy of Matthew 13 at that time as well. Richard actually concurred with this argument, although he claimed that AD 70 was simply a type of the greater, future end of the age. You simply must catch the power of Richard’s admission! Let’s refresh our memory of what Daniel foretold.
Daniel foretold the Great Tribulation (12:1).
Daniel foretold the resurrection to eternal life (12:2).
Daniel foretold the arrival of the kingdom (12:3).
Daniel foretold the end of the age (12:4).
Daniel foretold the Abomination of Desolation (12:9f).
Daniel overheard one angel ask “when shall these things be? And heaven’s response was “When the power of the holy people is completely shattered, all of these things will be fulfilled.”
Now, Richard admitted that Daniel 12 was fulfilled in AD 70: “I understand that Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D.70 put a catastrophic end to what may be referred to as the Jewish Age…well put by Don when he says this historical event broke “…Israel’s power(and) her covenant relationship with God.” But, realizing the fatal nature of this admission, Richard then tried to argue that the events of AD 70 had to be typological of the “real” end of the age, the real resurrection, etc..
However, as we pointed out (but Richard ignored) if AD 70 is when Israel’s covenant relationship with God (Israel’s “power”) was terminated then the termination of her Covenant relationship did not foreshadow the termination of her Covenant relationship! If her power was shattered, that did not typify the future shattering of her power! The end of the age did not anticipate another end of her age. The voice of heaven said, “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered, all of these things will be fulfilled.” Heaven did not say, “When the power of the holy people is completely shattered, that will be a sign of the greater future fulfillment!”
In further response to Richard’s argument that AD 70 was typological of a yet greater, yet future coming of the Lord I demonstrated that Jesus said AD 70 was the fulfillment of all prophecy (Luke 21:22), not a prophecy of the fulfillment of all prophecy! Now, Richard has recanted his admission that AD 70 was the end of the age, and says that it was actually in AD 33. This dramatic “debate conversion” smacks of desperation.
I presented numerous passages that affirm, in the clearest of language, that the end of the age, the coming of Christ, the resurrection and judgment, were near, at hand, and coming shortly– in the first century. I argued from Luke 21:8 that Jesus warned his own apostles against believing or making premature declarations of the nearness of the end. Jesus told them that when they saw the signs of the end, that they could then know it was truly near, and begin to proclaim its imminence. Those very disciples later proclaimed “The end of all things has drawn near.” They were either right, or, they were some of the very false prophets that Jesus warned them against. I challenged Richard repeatedly to deal with this issue, but all we received was silence. Total, abject, resounding silence! Needless to say, this one argument– the nearness of the parousia in the first century– totally destroys Richard’s theology.
I proved– in direct opposition to Richard’s claim that the church was not foretold anywhere in the OT– that:
1.) Paul said that the gospel that he preached was from the OT (Romans 16:25f). Paul could not preach what was not in the OT. Thus, undeniably, since Paul preached the church, and his preaching was based on the OT, then the church was foretold in the OT.
2.) Richard admitted that the events of Pentecost in Acts 2 were the fulfillment of Joel. Yet, the events of Pentecost had to do with the establishment of the church! Thus, Joel predicted the establishment of the church, as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel!
3.) I demonstrated that Acts 2 was likewise the fulfillment of Psalms 110. But, if Pentecost was the fulfillment of Psalms 110– as Richard admitted– then Psalms 110 predicted the establishment of the church.
And don’t forget that now, in his last affirmative, Richard has actually stated that the charismata– operative in the church– was (is) the fulfillment of OT hope! Do you catch that? First he denies that the OT predicted the church in anyway whatsoever, but now he says that the charismata in the church is the fulfillment of the OT prophecies! Both positions cannot be true.
I presented an in-depth argument on 1 Corinthians 10:11 where Paul said that the goal of all previous ages had arrived. If the church and thus the church age was the goal of all the previous ages– as Paul unequivocally affirms- then the seventieth week of Daniel 9 was not postponed. If the goal of the previous ages had arrived, then the church was foretold. If the goal of the previous ages had arrived, then a nationalistic restoration of Israel was not– and is not– the goal of the previous ages. If the goal of all previous ages had arrived, then there will not be another “end of the age” because the age of Christ and the New Covenant has no end (Matthew 24:35).
The indisputable fact that Paul unequivocally affirmed that the goal of all previous ages had arrived is a definitive refutation of Richard’s eschatology, and his proposition.
The readers of this debate should not miss the critical points above. If the OT foretold the establishment of the church, then Richard’s entire theology is falsified! And in fact, notice Richard’s summation of his point #1– “IN THE LAST DAYS THE SPIRIT EMPOWERS ALL BELIEVERS WITH MIRACULOUS MANIFESTATIONS IN FULFILLMENT OF OLD TESTAMENT HOPE” You must not miss how fatal this is to him!
The Spirit was poured out on Pentecost and in the first century– establishing the church!!- “in fulfillment of Old Testament hope” (Richard Jackson).
But folks, the Spirit should not have been poured out to establish the church, in fulfillment of OT hope, because according to Richard, the OT never predicted the church, or the work of the Spirit in the church! Do you see how Richard has destroyed his own theology? He cannot affirm that the OT never predicted the church, the church age, or the Spirit’s work in the church as “fulfillment of Old Testament hope,” and then turn around and affirm that the charismata in the church is the fulfillment of OT hope! That is a logical (and fatal) self contradiction.
So, once again, If the goal of all the previous ages–including the then present work of the Spirit in establishing and confirming the church, was what was happening in the first century, then Richard’s theology is false. Richard did not touch these arguments!
Richard made an appeal to 2 Thessalonians 1, insisting that it predicts a yet future, literal appearing of Jesus at the end of the Christian age. I proved, with careful and extensive exegesis, the following points:
1.) Paul was addressing a very specific historical church, undergoing persecution.
2.) Paul promised the church relief from that persecution.
3.) That relief would come “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.”
4.) At the coming of the Lord, He would repay with tribulation “those who are troubling you.”
5.) At the time of Thessalonians, it was the Jews and the Jews alone persecuting the church.
6.) At the coming of the Lor
d, those persecuting the church would be cast out of the presence of God.
7.) There was only one people who had ever dwelt in the presence of God, and could be cast from there, and that was Old Covenant Israel.
8.) I demonstrated that 2 Thessalonians 1 agrees perfectly with Galatians 4:22f, that it was Old Covenant Israel that was to be cast out for persecuting the church.
9.) I demonstrated that Richard’s dispensationalism is completely falsified by this text, because his theology says the church is not on earth, and is not being persecuted, at Christ’s coming. Yet, this is precisely what Paul affirms!
In my book, In Flaming Fire, I present an extensive exegesis of 2 Thessalonians 1 documenting all of these points even more. This text is a definitive refutation of Richard’s theology.
Naturally, Richard totally, 100% ignored this extensive argument, for it proves beyond any doubt that the parousia– and thus the cessation of the charismata– was in the lifetime of the first century Thessalonian church.
Richard completely ignored all of the arguments above (and more) and yet, he wants me to repent for disagreeing with him, and the patristic writers– who of course differ substantively with him! Make no mistake. I would most happily return to a more “orthodox” eschatology, for that would, at least theoretically, mean less ostracism. I would welcome correction of my “error”, if such it be! However, why should I repent of my position, when Richard has given me no exegetical, hermeneutical, logical evidence for me to change my paradigm? If anything, Richard’s total refusal and failure to deal with my arguments, both affirmative and negative, has bolstered my confidence in my position. It will take far more than Richard’s “evidence and argument” to re-convince me of the futurist paradigm.
Richard said (New Argument): “Preterism is and (sic) “unnecessary doctrinal innovation to fit a new & novel order of things relative to the historic doctrine of the Visible & Personal Second Coming of Christ to this world.”
It is somewhat amazing that Richard would try to falsify preterism because it is “new,” when even Thomas Ice says: “I believe it can be established that Darby first came to believe in both dispensational truth and pretribulationism by December 1826 or January 1827, before these other alleged sources even surfaced.” (http://www.bible-prophecy-today.com/2009/07/when-did-j-n-darby-discover-rapture.html#axzz0tSuWvVis).
It can be easily demonstrated that preterism is older than these dates, thus, preterism is validated per Richard’s “logic”!
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
I have made many, many arguments based on solid exegesis. I have demonstrated lexically, grammatically, logically, the truthfulness of my affirmative propositions.
I have carefully and thoroughly examined, responded to, and refuted every argument that Richard has offered. I have taken note of the following:
1.) Richard has failed completely to engage in actual exegesis of any given text. This alone should alert the readers that there is something wrong with Richard’s proposition.
2.) Richard failed to even address the great majority of my affirmative arguments, simply dismissing them with the re-statement of dispensational theory. But, the simple reiteration of a doctrine does not prove that doctrine to be true! It takes exegesis and solid hermeneutic, and Richard has given us none of this.
3.) I have shown, in fact, that Richard’s woodenly literal dispensational hermeneutic is fatally flawed, and directly contradicts the scriptures.
4.) I have shown that Richard’s four arguments are all totally dependent on his first point, the issue of the identity of the last days. Every other point he makes is absolutely dependent on this fundamental point!
I have proven beyond any doubt that “the last days” is a referent, not to the Christian age, but to the last days of Old Covenant Israel, and those last days ended in AD 70. Richard admitted this, but then sought desperately to take that admission back, and now suggests that the term “last days” refers to: a.) Israel’s last days, b.) The entirety of the church age as the last days, c.) The last generation of the church age as the last days. These are disparate definitions, and I have completely falsified this claim.
I have, in every way, both established my proposition as true, and I have, with irrefutable scriptural testimony, falsified Richard’s affirmative arguments. The charismata ended in AD 70.
Let me express my appreciation to Richard for his fine attitude in this debate. When men must resort to name calling, to impugning the character, the integrity of their opponent, and rancor, it denigrates the value of such discussions. Christian controversy is a proper, effective and profitable thing, when fellow-believers can express their understanding of God’s word with mutual respect and proper decorum. Richard has done this, and it is greatly respected. It is my sincere hope and prayer that these discussions have benefitted the readers. The emails that I have received indicates this to be true.
Finally, let it be clearly stated that I never question the sincerity or devotion to the Lord of those who believe in the charismata. I have and do work with those who believe in the current operation of the gifts of the Spirit. Their love of God is deep and sincere. We discuss our differences in Christian love and respect, and continue to work for the greater glory of God.
All glory to our wonderful God and our savior Jesus Christ who saves us by his grace.
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