The following critique of the McDurmon -V- Preston Debate was written by William Bell, of Memphis, Tn. I thought our visitors would appreciate his comments.
McDurmon’s Affirmative Speech
Joel McDurmon attempted to establish in his affirmative that there is a yet future terminal last day, with a limited number of elect Christians being saved after which God’s “finite” redemptive program ends. We lament his efforts.
Joel starts by citing John 5:24-29. He attempts to make a temporal distinction between the imminence which he acknowledged and affirmed in verse 25:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” Joel agreed like full preterists that this text refers to events that happened through the cross event and the 70AD parousia. He acknowledged that the time statements had to be honored.
However, he asserted that since the time statement was not repeated and by that he meant “explicitly” in verse 28, which says only “an hour is coming”, that it meant the two texts are separated in time by eons and ages, rather than referring to the same event. (Preston reminded him that they did).
Joel’s premise on the verse would be stated as follows:
Any eschatological context that with an explicit imminent time statement that does not repeat that time statement in every verse or has a verse which omits the “complete” verbatim time statement cannot refer to the same event.
Since verse 28, by ellipsis, did not include or repeat the entire phrase of verse 25, the two cannot speak of the same event. That would negate every time text in the scripture, including the ones he admits refers to 70AD. It is a logical fallacy.
<Inserted thought by Don K. Preston: Take note that in John 4:21-24 Jesus used the identical “the hour is coming” and “the hour is coming and now is” motif. The remarkable, and significant thing is that Joel would not draw a temporal contrast between those two “hours.” They are one and the same hour! Yet, when he comes to John 5, even though Jesus is using the exact terminology, Joel inserts a gap of so far 2000 years between “the hour is coming and now is” and “the hour is coming.” This is presuppositional theology at work. There not one word in the context of John 5 to justify such a temporal dichotomy.>
The Last Day Versus The Last Hour
McDurmon then attempted to use John 5:28-29 to affirm the last day resurrection which he asserted to be future. However, John 5:28-29 doesn’t even use the term “last day” at all. Joel can find a reference to the last day which is not in the text to push this text out beyond 70 AD to a yet future time in history which he asserts will end.
On the other hand, he could not use the language in the text to harmonize the two passages (25 and 28) as referring to the same event. How does he know that his “last day” reference did not apply to verse 25, since it is not mentioned in that text either!?!
John wasn’t discussing the last day in John 5:24-29. His subject was the “last hour.” However, when the text of 1 John 2:18-19, was submitted during the Q & A session, McDurmon had tremendous difficulty addressing it.
The last hour is a much shorter time and expresses even more imminence than the last day. The logic would be the last hour of the day. (See how Jesus spoke of the last day, i.e. the [last] day of the Flood, and the [last] day of Lot when God rained fire and brimstone from heaven, (Luke 17:26-29). Jesus said his coming would be just like those events! (Luke 17:30-31). Neither were the end of history.
Paul uses the “last hour” in that very sense per Romans 13:11-12. He says that now it is the “hour” to awake out of sleep. That’s the last hour before one gets out of bed. Why, because the night was far spent. That was the night of the last day! There was only one hour, i.e. the last hour left to go before time to rise (resurrection). That is the impact of Paul’s statement.
McDurmon knew that he would have to affirm a modern reenactment and rising of the Antichrists to affirm a future last hour. He knew and admitted that John spoke of Antichrists who came in his day, i.e. the first century and that it was evidence that the last hour had arrived.
What did John say would happen in the last hour? All that were in the graves would come forth. Was McDurmon consistent? No.
Now doesn’t it make sense that if the last hour of the last day had arrived in the first century, then the last day had arrived? Yet, McDurmon wanted to make John 5:28-29, a discussion of the last day when it doesn’t even use the term. Why did he not use the same “last hour” arguments that John, and Paul, the Apostles used? It’s because he is wedded to his reformed doctrine of limited atonement and futurism.
Partial Preterists on Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29.
What is the source of Jesus’ teaching on John 5:28-29? Is it not Daniel 12:2-3? Isn’t that the resurrection of the just and the unjust? Isn’t it the resurrection of those who sleep in the dust of the earth, i.e. who are dead? Wasn’t their resurrection to take place in the end of the age, Matt. 13:39-40? Doesn’t Joel affirm that the end of “this age” is the Jewish age which terminated in AD 70?
Gary Demar and Ken Gentry are on record that Daniel 12: 2-3, is 70 AD. So are many non-reformed Amillennialists. But Daniel 12:2-3 is John 5:28-29, Romans 13:11-2, and Acts 24:14-15 and 2 Thess. 4:1, to mention a few. Why the inconsistency. Hopefully the next time McDurmon addresses the text he can tell us why the last hour of the last day is 70AD, but the last day is yet future? How does that work?
McDurmon spent a lot of time in his affirmative giving a homiletical esposition of Job. It was mostly diversionary in my opinion as it didn’t offer much substance to the argument he advanced.
He started the argument by agreeing that the meaning of the text was difficult and somewhat ambiguous as far as scholarship goes. Then he offers the dubious rendering of the text to affirm that Job’s expectation was to stand on the earth, implying a physical resurrection in the last day “after his skin” is destroyed by saying in his flesh he would see God.
The most reasonable interpretation of the text according to research by Keil and Delitsch and other scholars is reflected in the margins of most translations, including those that render the text “in my flesh” I shall see God, is, “out of my flesh” I shall see God. In other words, Job affirms that after his skin is struck off, i.e. after his physical demise he would see God “out of his flesh” or without his flesh.
McDurmon, to his credit, did offer several possible interpretations including that which indicated Job would be vindicated and exonerated after his suffering which we see at the end of the book. However, that interpretation doesn’t support his case and it certainly doesn’t negate a full preterist position. To build a case on a text as questionable and as exegetically inconclusive as Job 19:26 is both a sign of naivety and desperation.
We do not intend to suggest that McDurmon is himself naive. He is scholarly and has completed all requirements for his doctorate. However, degrees do not shield one from making bad or weak arguments.
The Elect and Limited Number Of the Saved
Perhaps the worst argumentation in the affirmative was Joel’s argument (found on reign of Christ’s website) in which he attempted to bulldoze his reformed doctrine of limited atonement into the last day. We’ve pointed out his mishandling of John 5:28-29 above.
He argued that Peter, when speaking of the last day in 2 Peter 3, wrote to the elect. Then he says the elect were those whom God wou
ld save up to a yet future ultimate last day inclusive of present history. That is blatantly false and mishandling of Scripture in the writer’s opinion.
Reformed partial preterists claim as Sam Frost writes in his book, “…sola Scriptura–that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority determining Faith and practice, Why I Left Full Preterism, p. 7. Then just a few pages later, his left hand forgets what his right hand has written and says, ” According to the Westiminster Confession, God’s knowledge of those who are saved is a number “so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished” (III.4).
Are we to believe that Peter or any other Apostle or prophet of the Bible quoted from the Westminster Confession? The moment Full Preterism comes up, sola Scriptura must defer to “Sola Westminster Confession” by some. Where does the Bible equate the “doctrine of Christ” with “reformed church doctrine”? All we’re saying is that a creedal statement is only worth its’ salt if it complies with the doctrine of Christ and not the reverse, (2 John 9, 10).
The Elect of First and Second Peter
Who is the elect to whom Peter writes? He writes the second epistle to the same audience as the first, the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappodocia, Asia and Bithynia. These were first century saints of the remnant of Israel who had been scattered among the nations whom God called back to Him through the gospel of Christ.
Were first century Jews members of the reformed church? Were they adherents to the Westminster Confession?
By admitting that Peter wrote to the elect, particularly those in the first century, McDurmon once again abandons his entire affirmative and unwittingly his reformed doctrine. His premise would therefore limit salvation only to the remnant of fleshly Israel. However, it should be obvious from Romans 11, that the remnant, i.e. the elect were not the only ones being saved. The unnatural branches of the Gentiles upset that applecart.
Every major point McDurmon attempted in his affirmative was flawed per above.