Dishonest Don: Preston Get’s Caught!
A Brief Response #1
On the Reign of Christ blog, Paul Gates posted an article with the title above. The article impugns my integrity in a variety of ways, so I want to address some of the issues and charges.
Issue #1– Gates begins with the claim: “Hyperpreterist Don Preston has for a long time attempted to portray his views within the Evangelical Christian umbrella. However, he understands that his Christological view bares nothing in common with the doctrines of Christ Jesus as determined by Scripture and espoused by Evangelical Christianity. Thus, Preston has not been upfront regarding his doctrine of Christ and has normally if brought up seeks to change to a different issue often arguing that there is no relevance with his eschatological view. As a result of Mr. Preston’s less than forthright representation of his views which seems to be a carefully worded in public, he was invited to a forum of Evangelical Christians held at Criswell College discussing the major millennial views representing the modern Christian church.”
Let me say this as kindly as possible, but, this needs to said: Mr. Gates is guilty of making blatantly false, slanderous, and judgmental charges against me.
A couple of observations here about my Christological beliefs.
Before I ever became a preterist, or knew of the term, I believed exactly what I believe now about the nature of Christ’s post-resurrection / pre-ascension body. I have never believed that Christ still possesses a physical, fleshly body– never.
I have stated those beliefs for many, many years.
My views are clearly stated in my books, and especially in my Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, in which I have an extensive discussion of the nature of Christ’s post resurrection / pre-ascension body. In that book, I interact with Murray Harris book and his views of Christ’s body.
In fact, in lectureship after lectureship, I have present a lesson on In the Glory of the Father. In that lesson I state that the focus of the parousia was not to reveal Christ as a 5′ 5″ man, but rather to reveal him as King of kings and Lord of Lords! Christ was to come “in the glory of the Father.”
Thus, my views on Christ have been openly public, widely disseminated, and well known by preterists and even former preterists who have actually paid attention to my lectures and to my books.
For instance, Jason Bradfield responded to Gate’s claim. He pointed out that my views were well known by preterists– not hidden. In fact, he said::
“I’m going by what I have actually heard and read from Preston as one who used to spend a great deal of time in his material, and used to re-teach it.
I agree with you that this is a “non-starter”. But this isn’t “news”. Criswell unveiled nothing here. Granted, i’m sure this helped inform many people who simply don’t know anything about Preston, but it is not like Preston has hid this teaching.
Other debaters have not pressed him for the same reason Criswell would not have pressed him had nobody contacted them…they simply don’t know the teaching.
I had the entire lecture series from Preston that eventually formed the book, “Like Father, Like Son” and i’m telling y’all, this was not hidden info.”
So, Gates claimed that I had concealed what I actually believe. Bradfield says that is not true.
Gates tried to avoid this undeniable truth, but, to his credit, Bradfield would not allow it. Here is what Bradfield said after Gates attempted again to say that I have tried to hide my views and been deceptive about them:
“Preston’s view on the body of Christ has ALWAYS been public and clear. Therefore, this statement – “And had Mr. Preston been forthright about his heretical views regarding the doctrine of Christ Jesus he would have never been invited in the first place.” – is wrong. Don has not been hiding this.”
Sam Frost likewise chimed in and noted:
“First, Don has been public about his stance on this issue. Jason has provided the quotes, and we in the “know” in the hyper preterist community have always saw this. I even wrote an article on it years and years ago. We made fun of the “six foot Jesus” of orthodoxy. Don was not, then, on this score, being “dishonest”. It simply is not something he brings up with every comment or article he writes. If one were to read one book, or a few articles here and there, one would not get this impression. As Jason showed, there are even some HP’s out there entirely unaware of Don’s position on this. It’s not something Don tries “to hide”. It’s just not something overtly brought up. There is one brief mention on Don’s website, and that was written by Kurt Simmons. Paul was looking for documentation. Now, Jason has the lectures by Don (Like Father, Like Son), which he devotedly listened to back in the day, and there Don taught it. Also, in the book “In the Glory of the Father” he taught it. I don’t have those works. This is the book I asked Jason not to burn….rofl. But, nonetheless, Don has been public, and if someone digs a little in his multi publsihed (sic) materials, one will find it.”
Well, Amen and Amen!
For those who wish to know the truth, there it is, from those who oppose Covenant Eschatology. The lamentable thing is that Mr. Gates even acknowledged that in “one book” I had stated my convictions, but still maintained that I was not honest in presenting my views.
This is a sad demonstration that some anti-preterists are willing themselves to distort the truth. I appreciate Jason and Sam for demonstrating that Gates misrepresents the situation and even stating that Mr. Gates’ accusation was wrong.
(Frost nonetheless says that I have not expressed my views in some sort of creedal statement, and have not made it a major issue. And that is correct. I have never made it a major point of discussion. However, Mr. Gates is blatantly wrong to say that I have avoided the issue, or tried to change the topic when it came up. I have done no such thing)
The charge is made that I tried to avoid the question when asked from the audience at Criswell. Once again, blatantly false. When the audio is available, please, listen to it! I immediately, without obfuscation, without evasion, said, “No, I do not believe Jesus is now in a physical body.” Anyone suggesting otherwise is simply misrepresenting the situation.
By the way, when I stated my views, Mr. Johnson, president of Criswell spoke up and said he was shocked, and that, to paraphrase, “The historical creeds settled this long ago.” He urged me to rethink this position because of how the creeds and church history have spoken.
My response was to take note that when Luther was on trial, the main appeal was to 1000 years of church history that was counter to Luther’s position. Roman Emperor Charles V, “For it is certain that a single brother is in error if he stands against the opinion of the whole of Christendom, as otherwise Christendom would have erred for a thousand years or more.” (Cited in Beyond Creation Science, (Timothy Martin, Whitehall, Montana. www.truthinliving.org.)
(BTW, at Criswell, I inadvertently said it was King Charles the IV– not V, so I apologize for that historical wrong count.
I also took note that even the Westminster Confession of Faith states that it is not creeds or councils that are authoritative, but the Bible and the Bible alone. I stated that while I have great respect for the men who formulated the creeds and struggled with the issues, I do not accept them as authoritative. My only source of authority is Sola Scriptura!
I asked for some proof that Jesus is now in a human, body of flesh.
One of the other speakers offered Philippians 3:20f, a referent to Christ’s “glorious body.” I noted in immediate response that the text says not one word about wh
en he received that glorious body, that it is pre-suppositional to assume when he got it. In fact, as I noted, Luke 24 emphatically says that it was at his ascension that he entered into his glory. I also noted that prior to his Incarnation, Jesus was “in the form of God.” with the glory of God. I also noted that in John 17 Jesus prayed to the Father to glorify him with the glory he had before the Incarnation (before time began).
Kenneth Gentry read from Colossians 2:9 that says “in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” I immediately responded that Colossians says not one word about Christ possessing a physical body. Neither that text or any others affirm that the body in the referent is physical. Again, presuppositions, that are read into the text.
The suggestion that I tried to avoid the issue is flagrantly wrong. The idea that I tried to hide my position is a fabrication of the worst sort.
I will add a final brief anecdote here. After the conference, a group of five or six men gathered round me to discuss this issue. I asked for the evidence that Christ’s post-resurrection / pre-ascension body was a glorified, immortal body. Of course, the key argument offered was, “Well, the disciples were in a locked room and Jesus walked through the walls to appear to them.”
I asked the men what the difference in physics of a human body, or, in the miracle working power of Christ was between that body and miracle with the following pre-passion works of Christ:
He raised the dead with his word.
He walked on water.
He calmed the storm with a word.
He transported a ship instantaneously.
My question was, if Jesus could do all of these things prior to his resurrection, why could he not do them after his resurrection? I asked what there was about ostensibly walking through walls, that demanded a different physiological substance from the other miracles. The men answered that they had never considered any of this, and that they would have to think about it carefully. One man said he had no answer for the questions.
In conclusion, Mr. Gates owes the reading audience, and me, an apology for his blatant misrepresentation of how I have expressed my views– openly and without reserve- for literally years. “This thing was not done in a corner, Mr. Gates!”
Now, if Mr. Gates was not aware of the repeated, open declaration of my Christological beliefs, then he should never have claimed to know of my beliefs and supposed refusal to be forthright in declaring them.
If in fact Mr. Gates knew of my long term, open declaration of my beliefs, and nonetheless made his scurrilous claims, then he is guilty of bearing false witness.
In either situation, Mr. Gates’ claims are inexcusable, and wrong.
Gates is guilty of judging my heart, my motives, my integrity. And if Jesus condemned anything, it is this.
We will see if Mr. Gates will apologize to the RoC readers and to me, for such an egregious, blatant misrepresentation.
More to follow.