Kurt Simmons’ Eschatology:
Unjustified Changes #4
The Issue of SonShip and Adoption
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. 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.
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.
Son Ship Issues– Part #4
In the Preston-V-Simmons Debate, (p. 163)– Kurt said– “Adoption is essentially a legal act or decree by which one who is not our natural child is deemed a child in contemplation of law and made our legal heir. The legal aspect of our adoption occurred when we obeyed the gospel and were baptized. However, the ultimate object of our adoption is the inheritance of eternal life. Our inheritance must wait until we receive our immortal bodies at death.”
Response: Kurt is now reiterating that, claiming that we have only received the spirit of adoption, but that we are waiting on the final reception of the son ship and inheritance.
Do you catch the power of that? In carefully crafted words, Kurt is saying that we have only received the spirit of adoption, but, the finalization of the adoption process– guaranteed by some inner groaning voice– is when we die! We have only been “legally” decreed to be children of God, but, the consummation of the adoption is not until we die!
If Kurt denies this, and says that we are now truly sons of God, not simply having received the initial spirit of adoption, then he must determine at what point that adoption was finalized.
In Paul’s world, and our’s, adoption was a two step process. I speak from experience, having personally adopted a child. I can say– in full harmony with first century practices– that the initial declaration of adoption is not and was not the legal bestowal of son ship. It was a legal declaration of the intent to adopt. In the Roman world in which Paul was writing, the declaration alone did not make that prospective son a full heir. That did not occur until the finalization of the process the day in which the final judgment of adoption was formally decreed. (As an interesting note, the judge in our personal case actually said on the first hearing date, you have to come back in six months for the “final judgment” which will make the child your son.) The point being that Kurt cannot argue that the first century saints were fully sons of God, since per his own admission, and more importantly, Paul’s inspired statements, they had only received “the spirit of adoption.”
According to Paul and the NT writers, sonship would be revealed in glory at the parousia– not at our death (Romans 8:21-23; Colossians 3:1-3; 1 John 3:1-2). This is true in Romans 8 which Kurt tries to offer as support for his view. Note what Paul says of the sonship, of which the Spirit was the earnest, “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together.” Paul was eagerly anticipating the “manifestation of the sons of God” which he said was “about to be revealed” and they were eagerly looking for it, expecting it to come (Romans 8:18-20).
Paul was clearly and undeniably looking for the manifestation of the sons of God, the finalization of the adoption process guaranteed by the Spirit, in a very little while. He was not eagerly anticipating his death and that of the Romans. That was not the “glory about to be revealed in us.” He was anticipating the parousia, the time when the son ship guaranteed by the Spirit, would reveal the identity of the sons of God.
So, Kurt says that we today have received “the spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15). He says the Spirit is the guarantee of that adoption. The Spirit guarantees the reception of the inheritance when we die. Do you see what this means? It means that we are not fully children of God, yet, since the process of adoption is not consummated until we die! In Romans 8 the Spirit was to guarantee the consummation and finalization of the adoption process. Kurt says we today possess the Spirit, and the Spirit is the guarantee of the finalization, which occurs at our death. Thus, it is logically inescapable that per Kurt’s newly created theology, we are merely “adopted sons” awaiting the final judgment of son-ship. We remain in the state described by John “we are sons, but…” (1 John 3:2). And notice that in 1 John, the revelation of son ship would be at the appearing of Christ not at the death of the individual (cf. Colossians 3:1-3). Once again, Simmons is in direct violation of the inspired text.
Kurt applies the “adoption” concept to the individual perfected and consummated at death. For Paul and the Spirit however the promises of the adoption belonged to Israel corporately, and Paul confirms this in Ephesians when he says “we were predestined to the adoption of sons” and then adds that the Gentiles were now being grafted into those promises. Again, failure to honor Paul’s use of the personal pronouns, as he distinguishes between the “we” and the “you” leads to bad theology.
Note that in Romans 9:3f Paul emphatically says that he promise of the adoption was given to Israel “after the flesh.” This was a corporate promise to be realized at the parousia– the day of redemption– when the “we are sons but” state would terminate with “the manifestation of the sons of God..” Again, this has nothing to do with the death of individuals, throughout the endless Christian age. It had to do with the eschatological consummation which Kurt (ostensibly at least) posits in AD 70.
What Kurt has done is this:
He says that God was through with Israel and Torah at the cross.
He says that the promise of Sonship and the adoption did not belong to corporate Israel, but belongs to Christians divorced from Israel.
He says that those promises are purely individualistic.
He rips those promises from the framework of eschatology where Scripture puts them, and says they are fulfilled at the death of the individual.
None of these things are actually found in the inspired text.
So, once again, it is seen that Simmons has abandoned the actual truth of eschatology and invented an eschatology unknown in the NT. This truly is sad.