Responding to the Critics

Kurt Simmons And the Abandonment of Biblical Eschatology

Kurt Simmons’ Eschatology:
Unjustified Changes– Part 2
God Left Old Covenant Israel and Torah Behind At the Cross

In the April, 2011 Sword and Plow email journal sent out by my friend Kurt Simmons, he says he has abandoned his views of the “redemption of the purchased possession” discussed in Ephesians 1:12-13. The reason I am addressing this unfortunate alteration in theology by my friend is because his change is not only unjustified and an abandonment of the truth, but, because his change has such profound implications for the proper understanding of eschatology.

Some of the issues that are raised in Kurt’s article are covered in the written debate that he and I had in 2010 on the passing of the Law of Moses: The End of Torah, At the Cross or AD 70? That debate is now available in book form entitled: The End of Torah: At The Cross or AD 70? It is available from this website. I highly recommend that you get a copy of that exchange and read it carefully. It will be helpful in dispelling Kurt’s new claims, and bring deeper understanding of the importance of the issues involved. It will also reveal that Kurt changed his positions several times, during the debate, and now, he has changed even more since that debate.  (Also, don’t forget that our 2011 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, this July 14-16, 2011, is focused on this critical issue.)

In this review I will give the entirety of Kurt’s article, to avoid any charge of misrepresentation. In our written debate, I would often take note of things Kurt said. He would respond claiming that he had never said anything resembling what I said. However, I would then produce the exact quotes, proving that he did in fact say what I claimed. So, so by producing his entire article below, and then my response to it, you will be able to see that I am not misrepresenting anything that has been said.

At the appropriate places below, I will interject my “Response,” with bold. At the resumption of Kurt’s comments, I will put “KS” to avoid any confusion.

Here is what Kurt says in his article on “The Marriage of the Lamb.”

KS – Moreover, that he is called the bridegroom, and not husband, shows that his appearance heralds the coming of a new covenant wherein he will become husband to his new bride. …
In Jewish law, the betrothal period was equal in law to marriage and a woman who took another man during this period was just as guilty of adultery as a woman who was in a consummated marriage (Deut. 22:12-21 Matt. 1:18, 19). We sometimes hear it said that the couple lived together during the betrothal period, without consummating the marriage, but the Bible nowhere bears this out….. Thus, although deemed man and wife in contemplation of law during the betrothal period, the husband and wife lived apart.”

Response:
Here is what Kurt claims about the betrothal-marriage motif:
#1- God divorced Old Covenant Israel at the cross– (KS, April, 2011, SP)– “Thus, national, ethnic Israel and the law of Moses were left behind at Calvary, and spiritual Israel and the gospel of Christ began.”
#2- Christ was betrothed to the church from Pentecost until AD 70.
#3 – The Bible no where teaches that the bride and groom lived together prior to the wedding.
#4- The marriage was in AD 70 at the coming of the bridegroom.

The last three points are valid, the first point is false to the core. A few points:

A.) God could not and would not cast off – divorce– Judah until He had fulfilled all of His promises to her, for His covenant promises to her were “irrevocable” (Romans 11:28).

Note that Paul asks the question “Has God cast off His people whom He foreknew?” (Romans 11:1). The apostle is specifically addressing a situation in Rome in which some were saying that God was already through with Israel– like Kurt is now saying God was through with Israel at the cross. But, Romans is Paul’s emphatic denial of such a doctrine. He affirms, repeatedly, that God’s promises to Israel remained firmly in place, and would remain so until they were all fulfilled. Those OT promises to Israel “after the flesh” were, to restate, “irrevocable” and they had not yet been fulfilled when Paul wrote.

So, here is what we have.
Paul asked, Has God cast off Old Covenant Israel.
Simmons says “Yes! God had cast off His people whom He foreknew.”
Paul responds, however, “God has not cast off His people!”
Simmons is simply 100% wrong here.

B.) Note that Kurt (properly) equates the marriage with AD 70, and he says Christ was not married to the church, prior to AD 70. But, this meant that the New Covenant was not completed until then!

In Jewish thought marriage was preeminently a covenantal relationship. And, while the betrothal was the fundamental aspect of the covenant, the marriage– and thus the covenant– was not completed, not finalized, not fully in place until the marriage.

Here is what is so ironic. Kurt claims that salvation, redemption, and the New Covenant– was fully in place at the cross. Essentially, Kurt says Christ’s work was finalized at the cross. This is what he argued repeatedly in our debate.

However, did you notice that he acknowledges that Christ was not married to the church until AD 70. Did you notice that the church, as the betrothed bride, did not live with the husband until the marriage? So, we supposedly have a completed covenant, a perfected relationship, a total cleansing, but, the bride and groom did not live together! So, what was perfected? What was finished?

C.) One of God’s covenant promises to Israel was the resurrection from the dead (Isaiah 25:8-10; Isaiah 26-27:13; Daniel 12). Kurt claims to believe that the resurrection did not occur until AD 70. Thus, God’s covenantal promises, to Old Covenant Israel, was not fulfilled until AD 70.

D.) God emphatically declared that the time when He would dissolve that Old Covenant bond would be in the day when Israel would eat the flesh of their own children (Zechariah 11:10-11). This is patently not at the cross. See my discussion of this text and Kurt’s desperate attempts to avoid it, in the debate book.

E.) In Galatians 4:22f Paul said that Old Covenant Israel, and the Old Covenant, as representatives of the natural seed, was to be cast out, for persecuting the children of the promise, i.e. the body of Christ, the church. Here is an argument that I presented in the debate that Kurt could not and did not answer.

The Old Covenant, and the Old Covenant seed were to be cast out for persecuting the New Covenant and the New Covenant seed– Galatians 4:22-32. (This is an indisputable fact and cannot be denied. No amount of obfuscation or verbal gymnastics can mitigate it).

But, the Old Covenant seed did not persecute the New Covenant seed prior to the cross.

Therefore, neither the Old Covenant or the Old Covenant seed was“left behind at the cross.”

 

Take note of this fact as well. In our debate, I noted that in Romans 9 Paul discusses the then on-going salvation of the remnant of Israel, and that God promised to make “a short work” of consummating His OT promises. Now, catch the power of this! Kurt admitted that from 30-70 God was in fact still fulfilling those OT promises to Israel. He admitted that the salvation of the remnant of ethnic Israel, in fulfillment of those OT promises, was not fulfilled until AD 70.

Thus, from Kurt’s own key-board, we have the falsification of his claim that God left ethnic Israel and Torah behind at the cross.

F.) The book of Revelation is about
the time of the dissolution of the Old Covenant– the destruction of the harlot bride, the end of the Old Covenant age. In his book, The Consummation of the Ages, Kurt taught this truth.

G.) Revelation is about the application and imposition of Old Covenant provisions of wrath for violating Torah– Revelation cites the Law of Blessing and Cursings (Deuteronomy 28-30) repeatedly to describe what was about to happen to Babylon. Revelation 19 directly cites Deuteronomy 32:43 as fulfilled in the fall of Babylon. This is the application of covenantal wrath in AD 70. Thus, the covenant was still valid. Kurt taught this undeniable truth in his book.

H.) Notice that Revelation depicts the harlot, Jerusalem, (Kurt agreeing unless he has abandoned this truth as well) with a cup full of sin and the blood of the martyrs (17:4-6; 18:20-24). She has finally filled the cup of her sin, and judgment was about to fall.

In Deuteronomy 31:29, which is part of Torah, i.e. “The law” (which Simmons says God left behind at the cross), Moses said that in the last days Israel would become “utterly corrupt” i.e. she would fill the measure of her sin. When this happened, God would destroy her, when He avenged the blood of the martyrs (Deuteronomy 32:43).

Jesus emphatically said that Israel would fill the measure of her sin, in his generation, by persecuting his apostles and prophets– Matthew 23:31-36. Thus, Israel did not fill the measure of her sin, and was not judged and divorced, at the cross.

Take note that Deuteronomy 31-32 was a prediction of what would happen in Israel’s last days. Now, per Kurt, Israel’s last days ended at the cross. She no longer had a covenant. She was no longer a covenantal people. Biblically, Israel was defined by one thing: Torah, and nothing else Thus, if Torah and Israel was left behind at the cross, then her age ended at the cross. It is therefore specious to say that her last days extended to AD 70. If she had no covenant and if she was not a covenant people, then she had no “age” to extend until AD 70.

So, the fact that AD 70 was the outpouring of covenantal wrath– the fulfillment of Torah– is prima facie falsification of Kurt’s lamentable claim that Israel and Torah were left behind at the cross.

I.) How could God divorce Judah at the cross- terminating all covenantal relationship with her, and then 40 years later, apply and enforce the terms of His covenant marriage relationship with her– the Law of Blessings and Cursings of Deuteronomy 28-30, and the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32–  by bringing covenantal judgment on her? As just seen, Israel had not filled the measure of her sin at the cross, and had not rejected the gospel which had to be preached to them “in all the world, as a witness to the nations” before He could be just in rejecting and destroying them?

J.) It is axiomatic and indisputably true that if a covenant has been abrogated, you can no longer apply the terms and conditions– positive or negative– of that dissolved covenant. (Almost unbelievably, Kurt actually argued in our debate that even if a covenant has been abrogated, the terms and provisions of that covenant can be applied! But, logically, if the provisions of a covenant are still applicable, then surely the commandments of that covenant are still effective, and that means that the entire covenant is – per Kurt’s ill grounded logic– still valid after it has been abrogated?

The idea that provisions of a covenant are still applicable after that covenant has been abrogated is surely one of the most desperate claims I have ever encountered in debate. I challenged Kurt to give even one legal precedent and example for this wild claim, but of course, he could not, and did not even try.

K.) In confirmation of Point A, Jesus said that not one jot and not one tittle of Torah would pass until it was all brought to full accomplishment and reality. It is not, properly, “fulfilled” but rather, “brought to complete reality, fully accomplished, fully come to pass.” I will be fleshing this out in one of my presentations at the 2011 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, July 14-16, here in Ardmore. See the details on this website. This latter point totally falsifies all claims that all that Jesus had to do was remove the ceremonial law, or all that he had to do was to die on the cross.

http://www.eschatology.org/index.php/articles-mainmenu-61/115-written-debates/841-more-on-the-passing-of-torah.html.

Ask yourself the question: Whose promises would be fulfilled at the time of the resurrection? Unfortunately, the modern futurist world (and Kurt, seemingly) says it would (will) be God’s promises to the church, divorced from Israel and God’s promises to her. However, this is prima facie false.

Paul said that his hope of the resurrection was nothing other than, nothing different from, God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel– and that was Israel after the flesh, Romans 9:1-4– in Torah (Acts 24:14f; 26:5f; 26:21f). His prediction of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 is based on and taken from Isaiah 25, Hosea, and Daniel 12.

Kurt has Israel cut off at the cross. This demands that God’s promises of the resurrection were invalidated at the cross. It means that the promise of salvation, which would flow from Israel to the nations (Isaiah 49:6f) was abrogated at the cross. How could God be through with Israel at the cross, and yet His promises to her remain valid until AD 70? Kurt admits that the AD 70 judgment against Israel was predicted in the OT. To suggest that God nullified His covenant with Israel at the cross, and yet His promises to her were not fulfilled until AD 70 is the height of illogic. It has no merit whatsoever.

This will suffice on this point for now. The bottom line is that it is irrefutably true that God’s covenant with Israel remained valid until AD 70. It is tremendously sad that anyone who would claim to be a preterist– and I say this as kindly as possible– would even think of denying this fundamental Biblical truth.

Paul’s accuser’s charged him with preaching against Israel. Paul said they were false and that he preached nothing but the hope of Israel, found in the OT promises made to “Israel after the flesh” (Acts 24:13f; Romans 9:1-3).

Lamentably, now, Kurt Simmons is making the same charge against Paul and the NT writers, claiming that they taught, prematurely, that God had terminated His relationship with Israel. The apostles emphatically denied any such doctrine.

Denial of the centrality of Israel and her covenant to eschatology is not preterism — nor is it proper eschatology in any sense of the word. Simmons is in direct contradiction of the inspired Biblical  writers. There is no such thing, Biblically, as “Christian eschatology”  yet, this is precisely what Kurt is now advocating, and creating. He has, in essence, reverted to his misguided “church of Christ” eschatology that divorces Israel and her promises from eschatology.

More coming in part 3.

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