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(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Joseph Addison
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Wilhelm Bousset
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"Haddington Brown"
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J, F, and Brown
B.W. Johnson
John Jortin
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Richard Knatchbull
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Cornelius Lapide
Nathaniel Lardner
Jean Le Clerc
Peter Leithart
Jack P. Lewis
Abiel Livermore
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Martin Luther

James MacDonald
James MacKnight
Dave MacPherson
Keith Mathison
Philip Mauro
Thomas Manton
Heinrich Meyer
J.D. Michaelis
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Thomas Pyle
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Philip Schaff
Thomas Scott
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Rudolph E. Stier
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Friedrich Tholuck
George Townsend
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Wm. Warburton
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Noah Webster
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Problems with Stevens' Response to Gentry

By Ed Hara
  September 1, 2000

   I am loathe to take on such a fine and brilliant mind as Ed Stevens, who has shown in many of his works that he is well educated and a master of the Greek and of Scriptures.   At the same time,  we are both human, rather than divine, and therefore subject to error and to disagree with each other.    We also, as he says in this paper, are subject to running our opinions and learning through our own paradigms and grids, which can certainly prejudice the outcome of our research.   Let me say right now that I hold Brother Ed in the highest esteem.  I believe him to be one who loves the Lord and his walk with Christ shows that love.  I just hope that as the tenor of this paper makes it clear where my spiritual journey is ultimately  taking me,  that  he will continue to be able to say the same for me.   Those who leave the Reformed faith are not usually looked upon with kindness by the brethren they have left behind.

It is incredible to me that the more I see of the Internet, the more I see "believers" constantly arguing with one another.  I find myself wondering if this was the "unity" which our Lord had in mind when He prayed that "they all might be one".  Unfortunately, this will be just one more argument.   I hope that as it is read,  one will not think that in trying to be firm I have not stooped to too low a level.

In the first response section,  Brother Ed talks about the kingdom in such a way that I wonder if he considers it to be a separate article from the Church itself.  I have always understood that the Church and the kingdom have been, in some ways, considered to be one and the same thing.  I note that when our Lord spoke of the kingdom,  he did not say "the kingdom WILL BE like unto",  indicating a presence of the kingdom already.  He used the language of describing that which was already extant.  This ties in nicely with Matthew 21:33-46 (I will be referring to this passage a lot -- there are a number of tremendous implications in this parable)

Ed's second response is extremely interesting to me as a covenantalist.  He talks about the camp of the "post everythingists",  those who consider everything to be past.   He also states that there is a very limited number of them out there.  Then he discusses the need for the continuing covenantal signs/seals.    This is most important, for if one were to insist that the Church is not here today, as Brother Ed seems to do with his "complete fulfillment",  then one would have to immediately ask  "But how do we NOW make covenant with God,  since there is no longer a Church and hence,  Baptism  as a covenantal sign/seal is no longer valid?  How do we obtain forgiveness of sins if the Eucharist is no longer valid?"   A serious concern indeed for those who are covenantal and in that covenantalism understand that the Sacraments as  operating "ex opere operato."

I am curious to know what Ed means by "other ongoing expressions of our covenantal relationship with God".   Is he becoming a Sacramentalist in the Catholic tradition?

What is Max King's covenant eschatology?   Sounds like something I really want to get a handle on, since ANYTHING with the word "covenant" in it IMMEDIATELY catches my attention!  When I hear that Max approaches the covenant from a corporate position,   I want to know more.  The corporate covenant of God, especially the Yom Kippor of Christ in Heb. 9,  is possibly the most misunderstood part of the New Covenant, and is responsible for the reprehensible doctrine of  "once saved -- always saved".

I will have to do extensive studying of the idea of the millenium happening between AD 30 and AD 70.  Not that it couldn't be.   We have to remember that the thrust of eschatology was involving the covenant people of that time,   which was the nation of Israel.  It was they who were the keepers of the Lord's vineyard but were about to be thrust out of it  (Matt. 21: 33-46).    It was prophesied of them that they were about to inherit the wrath of God for all that they (in their fathers and in person) had done to those servants of the Most High God when they walked among the Jews and reproved them for their wickedness.  Therefore,  knowing the symbolism of the number 1000,  we may indeed find that this period of time was God's COMPLETION of the covenantal status of Israel and the bringing in of the new covenant.  I would need to study the ramifications of having the millenium over with in AD 70 vs the idea that we are in the millenium right now until the end of time.  Specifically,   what does this view do to the Church?    If it destroys the Church in its permanency as the kingdom of God, then it is to be rejected out of  hand.

 

In his third answer,  Ed states

"We believe the Old Testament world (the old “heaven and earth”) passed away at AD 70, so the Old Testament Law is no longer binding upon us in the same way it was upon Jewish Christians living in Palestine before the end of the Jewish government in AD 70. 

  I find myself wondering if this creates a disconnect which is too great for the Church to leap over.  I see Ed treating the Church as if it were a completely new and totally different organism than the nation of Israel.  Scripture doesn't seem to warrant such distinction.  This is more the dispensationalist position than that of one who is supposed to be a believer in the covenant of God as a Presbyterian (at least, the last time I spoke with Brother Ed).

Back to Matthew 21 again.   I see NO DIFFERENCE in the vineyard itself.  The only thing I do see a difference in is in the change of administration.   The old administrators are kicked out and the new ones brought in at the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem.  The Church has long been considered to be the continuation of the nation of Israel.    There is a continuance of sacrifice for sins,  there is the Yom Kippor which was done in Heaven, which Brother Ed so beautifully teaches on,  there is  priesthood,    the mention of temple,   liturgy, prayer,  holy days and feasts,  a Church calander.   In short,  as we trace the Church and Her progession through history,  we see the continuance of the Jewish nation,  but with a new administration, and most of all, a better covenant and Sacrifice.  To say that the Old Testament Law is not binding upon us in the same way  requires a further discussion.   I do hope that Brother Ed doesn't mean that it is not even applicable,   but rather than those items which the Lord has fulfilled and replaced  (such as the dietary laws  cf. Acts 10 & 11) are what he is talking about.

The structure of covenantalism, as found in Deut.  28 must remain in place,  with just the nature and administration of the covenant changing from Old to New Covenant.

The promise of Hebrews 12:22-29, the establishment of a new kingdom which cannot be moved,   does not mean that this cannot be the Church here on earth.  In fact, if we keep in type, it must mean that.   It does not seem right to insist that the first earthly ecclesia,  which is seen, physical, and earthly,  be replaced with a new ecclesia which is invisible, spiritual only, and strictly in Heaven.   This is the error of the reformed where they, in order to justifiy their rebellion from the errors of the Church,  described the church as a strictly spiritual body.    This is not warranted from Scripture.   The resurrection chapter,  1 Corin. 15,   describes the Second Adam as a spiritual being, but does that mean that He had no physical body?    That heresy was dealt with in the early stages of the Church by those who insisted that Christ was not fully man, but only  appeared to be  man.   The idea that a spiritual being is not able to have an earthly body is an attack upon the Incarnation of Christ Himself.    He is described as being made a quickening spirit,  but this does not mean that He was not fully human.   In like manner, the Church is an earthly Body which is also the heavenly Jerusalem.   The Church on earth is the incarnation of that true which is in Heaven  (cf.  Heb 9).

  In the very next paragraph,  Brother Ed totally validates the existence of the Church.

The New Covenant is not going to replace the Old with something different in kind, but only different in glory.

  Read that again carefully.   Not different in kind, but in glory.   No wonder the Catholic Church talks about the "fullness of the faith" found within Her walls.  She is the continuation of the Old Covenant, retaining the same kinds of liturgies and worship practices,  yet having the glory of the New Covenant by having now the PERFECT Lamb which is offered on the altar. Protestantism tries to destroy this continuation by creating two entirely different covenants with two entirely different bodies.  I think I will memorize this phrase,  for it is a good explanation of the change in covenants.

As we have seen throughout this book, the passing away of the heaven and earth does not need to refer to the physical world. It often refers to a covenantal establishment.

 

Oh, boy!    This is getting better and better!    It was indeed not the Church (ekklesia -- gathering -- covenantal family of God) which passed away.   It was not that the Church of the New Covenant is something radically different from the Church of the Old Covenant, but that the covenanat establishment (administration) was replaced.   Think of a house with tennants who have killed the son of the owner.  They are destroyed, but the house itself still remains, and new tennants are brought in.   That is the picture we miss in the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen.  The covenantal ceremonies of worship, cutting covenant, praise and thanksgiving , and most of all, of sacrifice, are kept.  It is the adminstrators who are tossed out on their ear!  Look at the ceremonies of the Catholic Church and you will see, if you look closely,  Jewishness written all over them.

  Now Brother Ed steps on a landmine.

Every generation must continually be reforming and reconstructing the church and society around RIGHTLY INTERPRETED AND APPLIED BIBLICAL LAW.

  Hooooowheeeee!!  Does this man know what he has just done?  And just WHO  is going to be the institution to rightly  interpret and apply Biblical law?   The Theonomists?   The Reconstructionists?   The Baptists, Methodists,  Lutherans,  Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterians, Fundamentalists,  or Episcopalians?  There are thousands of denominations, sects, and cults within Protestantism.  They all have books of "exegesis" which defend their positions.     Ed, you don't really think that they are going to give two hoots and a hollar about YOUR interpretation of the Scriptures, do you?  By what right and authority do you and the reformed, reconstructionist, theonomists claim divine guidance over your interpretations and applications of the Law of God?  You are going to have to bring to the table some serious proof that God has spoken to YOU and the reconstructionist/theonomists and laid the mantle of infallibility upon your shoulders so that others put down their exegetical swords and get in line behind your authority.  That is going to be one heavy burden to bear,  especially when the reformed destroy the notion of an earthly Church by their creation of the "invisible Body of believers" as the true Church on earth.  Well, how very nice!  How do you know then WHO has the authority to speak if you don't have a visible body on earth as a point of reference?  This is going to be fun to watch.   I hope to have a front row seat in Heaven as this all works itself out.   Should be very entertaining.

This is the legacy of the reformation and its insistence upon "sola scriptura" and the right of private interpretation.  When I was a Presbyterian Calvinist,  I often wondered, and could not understand, why everyone in the world couldn't see that our position was the right one.   Of course, I am sure that the Baptists with whom I disagreed couldn't understand how I could be so chowder headed as to not see that they had the correct understanding of Scripture. I have more fun on the Internet than I can shake a stick at watching various Protestant denominationalists fight and wrangle over Scripture!!  Luther himself  lived long enough to see the bitter fruits of his rebellion against authority,  writing that  "every fool with a pulpit and a Bible considers himself a teacher of the Word, spewing forth the most abominable heresies...."

Well, Herr Doktor Luther, you have no one to blame but yourself for shredding the Body of Christ into thousands of pieces.   Yes, the Church was in serious need of reforming certain abuses which had crept in, but you threw out the baby with the bathwater,  tossing out not only those activities which were being abused and may have been inventions of men,  but also twisting and perverting 15 centuries of Church doctrine which was solidly founded upon the teachings of the Apostles.  Once you did that, and insisted that you had as much right and authority to make up your theological novums, such as "sola scriptura" and  "sola fidei" (in which case you were even unafraid to tread where angels fear to tread, changing the very Word of God itself), you opened the doors for everyone to claim as much authority.   Yet I find nowhere that authority is given to anyone but the Apostles (Matt. 16:18-19) and their heirs by the laying on of hands (Acts 8: 18, 1 Tim. 4:14, Heb 6:2).   It is not some invisible entity which was given authority to speak for God, but the visible Church here on earth, and I find nowhere in Scripture where you were given the right to leave the Church and start a new body.  Even in the Old Testament when the covenantal nation of Israel was in apostasy and rebellion,  I find nowhere does God say to those who remained faithful "Go and start another nation and I will bless you there"   The family is supposed to remain intact,  but you, Herr Luther, have tossed Her sons and daughters to the wind.

Brother Ed,  I only see ONE group of people to whom the promise was made that they would be led into ALL TRUTH --  The Twelve.  (John 16:13)  There were twelve "offices" of the new covenant which replaced the twelve authoritative tribal leaders of Israel.   The promise of being led into all truth was given to them as covenantal heads of the new covenant Body which they would establish.   That Body was the Church and it was embarrassingly catholic in doctrine and practice by the end of the third century,  long before the so-called "paganization" of Constantine.   You must show me where Christ took that authority from the Catholic Church of the Early Fathers on earth and gave it to another body.   And then,  you are going to have to show me WHICH BODY on earth our Lord gave it to!!   I hope you see this as the daunting challenge I see it as.

Further on down the article,  I find another statement which just torpedoes the whole reformed position.

Jesus said He would build His church (the kingdom) and the dominion of Death and Hades would not prevent it. Is the church here? Did it survive the Jewish attempts to destroy it? Has it made any progress in the last two thousand years?

  Here is Brother Ed's admission that the kingdom and the Church are one and the same.  The  Matthew 21 parable gives us no room to insist, as do the reformers,  that the Church is changed from the visible, physical, and seen entity which God dealt with under the Old Covenant, to an invisible,  spiritual, and unseen entity which has doubtful  authority over the lives of believers.    I would ask Brother Ed to please find me in this parable any indication that the nature  of the vineyard changes.   The adminstration changes, with the change of the covenant from old to new,   but the vineyard remains the same in structure.   We have a better covenant in which we now cultivate the True Vine and give the fruits of this Vine to the nations for their healing.

If the Catholic Church was not the "new nation" (1 Peter 2:9) of the new covenant, then the gates of hell indeed did destroy the Church.  The Gospel which went to the ends of the earth was not,  despite the wailings of the Calvinists to the contrary,  Calvinism and "sola fidei/sola scriptura".   Justification by faith alone is called the egg which Luther laid and Calvin hatched.   The only problem with it is that this idea was unknown by the Church for 15 centuries, which means that if Calvin is right, the gates of hell and death did prevail for 15 centuries and MILLIONS of believers went right straight to hell.  You cannot parse this any other way.  You cannot insist that there was some mysterious "remnant" which held to the true Gospel (unless you passionately cling to your dog-earred copy of THE TRAIL OF BLOOD) because the WHOLE  ECCLESIASTICAL WORLD WAS CATHOLIC!!

And it is not just justification by faith alone.  It is the Eucharist, the issue of baptismal regeneration (which if you are any kind  of covenantalist you should believe in),  the continuing mediatorial priesthood,  it is, in fact, 90% of Catholicism (Eastern Catholics don't accept purgatory, indulgences and certain Marian doctrines) which the reformed of today would have to claim that came directly from the pit itself, thus making Satan the winner for 15 centuries rather than God.    I just don't see that as a very decisive victory for Christ or for the Church which He promised would not be overcome by the gates of hell and death.

Bottom line, it was either the Catholic Church which our Lord was making these promises to, or it couldn't really be any body and institution here on earth.  Or perhaps I should say, the Church which became Catholic as it developed and grew over centuries.   One has to wonder why those men who spoke Greek and understood all of its tenses and nuances as easily as we handle the English language, didn't come to Luther and Calvin's understandings by the second or third century?   Were they all THAT DUMB?   And to top it off, they had the Apostolic promise of being led into all truth, therefore, those things which St. John taught and handed down to Polycarp, for instance, had to have the imprimateur of truth upon them as teachings.

The pre-70 saints only had an “earnest” or “pledge” of the benefits that we now enjoy in the fully-arrived kingdom.

Here is another fine example of twisting Scripture to prove what one wants to prove.

Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

We have the Holy Spirit as the earnest of our inheritance,  not as the earnest of the coming kingdom.  Now what is the inheritance of the believer?

Eternal life.

  Lu 18:18 ¶ And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  (Notice the eloquent silence from our Lord regarding this man's understanding of eternal life as an inheritance.  Why did He take this wonderful opportunity to correct this man's thinking and establish the Reformed position for ever?)

This is where the thinking of Calvinists and Catholics comes to a screeching disconnect, based on Luther's faulty notion of  "sola fide" justification.   This isn't even covenantal and those who are in the reformed camp ought to take a closer look at how a covenant works before they go spouting off Luther's nonsense as truth.

CRITICAL POINT:  a covenant has terms!   There is no such thing as an unconditional covenant.   The corporate covenant of Yom Kippor had terms.   That was why the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies with a rope tied around his ankle.  Deut. 27 &   28 clearly spell out the terms of  covenant.   Under the New Covenant, we again see the conditional nature of the covenant in the warnings to believers against apostasy.   Those warnings are there specifically because a covenant is conditional!  If the covenant of salvation is unconditional,  those warnings are the most foolish writings in the whole corpus of Holy Writ.

I have written a 48 page dissertation on the covenant and how it works, so I hardly intend to repeat all that here.  Let me say that one of the most important aspects of the  covenant is that it is not just some legal document.   It is not merely juridical.   A Biblical covenant, while having elements of the juridical in it, is a giving of one person to another.  This theme runs through the Scriptures, from God and Adam pledging themselves one to another to the giving of Christ and His Bride to one another.   As part of this,  God calls the world to come to him and be adopted as sons, giving ourselves to Him and He to us in a  family covenant.

Let us now look at one of the most misused stories in Scripture to see how a family covenant, and ultimately, eternal life, works.   It it the story of the Prodigal Son.  Note first of all that he is a son in the father's house.  He is not a foreigner.  I have heard preacher after preacher insist that this parable is the story of God saving sinners. 

HOGWASH!    (I really wish I could say something more to indicate the strength of my disagreement).

This is the story of one who is ALREADY A SON!  It is us after our adoption by grace through baptism into the family of God.   Throughout the Scriptures we see God painting His relationship with His creation as that of a Father.   The family unit is seen as a covenantal unit in the Scriptures.   We have the right, therefore, to apply the covenant of salvation, the family covenant God makes with believers through Christ, to this story.

The son asks for his inheritance, a rather nasty insult to the father.  But does he get the whole inheritance?  NO.  He gets an earnest of it.   The father does not give the boy everything he has.   We know this because there is yet fortune to dispense left in the father's hands when the son returns.   The son gets his earnest and begins to spend it.   We get the earnest of the Holy Spirit and are expected to use it wisely.   The son, rather than doing wisely with this largess,  goes to the far country and wastes it all.   This is a picture of what believers do when they go into continued, unrepented of sin or apostasy.  Hence St. Paul's warnings to his flock against falling away and losing their salvation.

Now, there still awaited further inheritance for the boy at the father's house.    We see him come to his senses and return to the father's house and receive that which was there for him.  But suppose--

Suppose the boy had died in the far country?

Would he then have received the inheritance?  No.   He would have died in his cursed (covenant breaking) condition.   This is a picture of those who break the family covenant with the Father and leave the household of God, going into the "far country" of sin or apostasy.    At the Judgement Day they will find that they have been disinherited by their absence from the Father's household and their acts of rebellion.

(Rom 2: 5-10), all men will be judged by their acceptance and adherence to God's gracious offer of family covenant.    Those who have never accepted the covenantal terms, and those who have turned from the covenant, shall be disinherited.    It is the faithful covenant keepers who may expect the inheritance.    And what is our family inheritance?

Mt 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

  Right from the lips of our Lord Himself.  Eternal life is an inheritance.  Those who remain in the family, keeping the covenant they made by oath (sacramentum) with God, shall indeed inherit their full blessing.  But the earnest we have now is just the foretaste of better things to come.

If we are still in the transitional millennial period, the Paraclete is still actively revealing new Scripture and giving out charismatic gifts in Christ’s absence. The Paraclete is to operate until Christ’s return (which Gentry believes will occur after the millennium which is still in progress). One of the main functions of the Paraclete was to reveal new information about the plan of redemption. (cf. John 14-16)

The problem here is that Brother Ed assumes that the promises which are made in John 14 -16 are to be promiscuously applied to every believer of every age.  Yet there are several qualifiers in these three verses that we would do well to consider:

Joh 14:25 ¶ These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

Not unto the whole world of believers,  but unto The Twelve, unto those who were the replacement for the twelve tribes of Israel.   Those upon whom the mantle of authority would fall.

 Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

What a singular promise this was!   If these men were anything like the rest of us,  they would be confused and short of memory regarding the teachings of the Lord by which the New Covenant believers were to be led.   Here is a most comforting promise that the Holy Spirit would bring to them, the men right there with Christ,  all truth and all that He had taught and said to them.  This couldn't possibly be a promise to all believers of all time and the proliferation of denominations, sects, and cults in the world, all claiming to be led of the Holy Spirit and all disagreeing, is mute testimony to this truth.  This is a specific promise to specific men who were about to embark upon the leadership of the Church without their beloved Master.

  Joh 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

Another verse showing us the localized and specific application of this discourse to those gathered together with Christ in the Upper Room.  This is just as locally applicable as Matthew 16:28, where it says that those who are standing there listening to Christ will not all die before His return.  Brother Ed should appreciate this, since I know that he, like I, has to fight with people who want to take this distinctly local promise and make the word generation apply to something other than those standing there listening to Christ.

 

Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  

  These promises are being specifically given to the leadership of the Church.  Can you imagine the chaos that would have been in the first century if everyone treated the words of our Lord as the Protestants do today?

"AND AHHHHHHHH KNOWS I HAVE A WORD FROM THE LAWD!!"

 

Yeah, right!   The only problem with your "word from the Lawd" is that it is heresy!  Other than that, fine.   No.  This promise was given to The Twelve only and the Early Church understood it just that way and submitted to their teaching and leadership.  To have understood it another way would have resulted in the chaos we see in Protestantism today -- thousands of "churches," with  absolutely no disciplinary or doctrinal authority, instead of one holy, Catholic,  and apostolic body with one book of catechism and one set of teachings.

  As such, one can still refute the Charismatic nonsense running around without necessarily abandoning the Preterist position.  Christ's return in AD 70 did indeed end the revelation.  It is most noteworthy to see that all the epistles which we have as the canon of Scripture were not written after that time.  The depositum fidei was complete with The Twelve and faithfully passed on.   We can still be in the millenium without having to be subject to the whims of the Charismatics by understanding that the promise of revelation was to The Twelve ONLY.

  You see, by being part of the Presbyterian assembly,  Brother Ed by his actions admits that which he denies in his writings, that the Holy Spirit is still giving out further revelations of truth.   His membership in the Presbyterian assembly says to the world "John Calvin was led of the Holy Spirit to revelations of truth which I must follow"  Yet if the revelation of  truth by the Holy Spirit was finished by  AD70, and the Church which developed after that by the passing on of oral tradition was distinctly Catholic in practice,  then Ed needs to be consistent with his position of revelation of truth and join the Catholic Church.

 
                           
THE AUTHORITY OF THE CREEDS

  Who says anyone’s orthodoxy must be judged by conformity with uninspired documents that came into existence many years and even centuries after inspiration ceased? Gentry has put himself in close proximity to the Romanist position (the pope above or on a par with Scripture) by allowing the creeds to be the standard by which we judge orthodoxy (“straight doctrine”). That is putting uninspired human interpretations into a position above or on a par with Scripture.

  Oh boy!   Here's where the rubber really meets the road.  Authority.  Who has it?  Where is it located?   How do we know?

  I simply cannot imagine a "church" without authority.  I wonder if Brother Ed can.  Probably,  since it is the legacy of the Protestant Rebellion for every man to consider himself an authority unto himself, responsible to no one but his own understandings of what Holy Scripture is saying to him.    It is amazing that Protestantism can look at the ecclesiastical train wreck they have created and not stop and say "Wait a minute!  Something is desparately wrong here.   THIS cannot be what our Lord had in mind as a way to run His Church!"

  Perhaps some will try to say the same thing of  the Catholic Church of Luther and Calvin's day,  but there is a difference between wickedness and authority.  One only needs look at our current Whoremonger in Chief in the White House to see how this works in practicality.   His perfidies in the Oval Office and elsewhere may make him one of the worst scoundrels who ever sat at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave,  but it did not take away one ounce of his authority.   Even after he leaves to go skirt chasing elsewhere,  that seat of authority,  the Presidency of the United States, will still retain and have authority for the next man to hold that office.

  In like manner, the perfidies of Eli's sons did not take away their authority, and they reaped what they were sowing in their disrespect for that office.  King David's dalliances with Bathsheeba did not take away his kingship,   but he did reap the bitter harvest of those seeds of sin. 

  Ecclesiastical authority is given and taken away by God alone. 

  The Church, the nation of  covenant people, is NOT a democracy.  It is not up to the people in the Church to decide that they have had enough of bad rulers, which in this case meant bad Popes and wicked prelates, and start another body for themselves.  The only recourse they had was to prayer and patience, of which Luther had absolutely none.

  Mt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

  Anyone who heard these words of our Lord would have realized that an incredible authority had just been conferred upon The Twelve.   Only with the Protestant Rebellion did there start to be so-called "exegesis" which denied the authority of both St. Peter and the Church as the administrators of the kingdom of heaven.   But,  of course, if you are going to rebel against that seat of authority which our Lord established Himself, you better develope what you think   are a real good set of reasons to take with you the Judgement Seat of Christ.  After all,  He is going to ask you from where you got the idea that you or your set of beliefs were more authorative than the Church He set up.  The testimony of the Early Fathers is quite clear that they understood these words to mean that St. Peter held the seat of honor and authority among his equals.  The Papacy was called upon more than one time to settle ecclesiastical disputes and depose heretical bishops, and no one questioned for a second the authority of  the early popes to do such disciplinary work in the Church,   East or West!

 

It was in this promise of verse 19 that the Church met in Council.  Would our Lord promise such binding and loosing and then FAIL to send His Holy Spirit to attend to the councils of the Church?   Of course, if the Church was only around from AD 30 to AD 70, then we have a rather handy out for this, don't we?  The authority, the teaching, the leading of the Apostles, all stopped in AD 70.    But if this is what Brother Ed is insisting upon for the time we live in,  we are left with an ecclesiastical free-for-all regarding the truth and any sort of authorized ability to come to proper understanding of the truth.  I would ask Brother Ed  this: 

  If the Church was only around from 40 to 70AD and we are now in the eternal kingdom,  then what is the point of having any church at all?  If Jesus is our King and reigns among us,  why can't we just have our own services in our own houses and be our own authorities.  Why must I be anything in the kingdom?

  Da 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

  Never be destroyed.  Never.    Stand forever.    I say that this promise of God means that the kingdom which began with Christ's cry "It is finished" (meaning the Old Covenant) and found fullness of application with the destruction of Israel,  indeed shall never be destroyed.  Interesting that the Protestant Rebellion has not been able to destroy the Catholic Church.  Interesting that the Catholic Church was the Church for 1500 years that evangelized the world, taking the Blessed Eucharist to the pagan nations and converting them for Christ.  To listen to the Protestants, one would think that the Gospel started in 1517.

  What we do not understand in America is the idea of kingdoms and benign dictatorship.   A kingdom is not a democracy!  A kingdom has rules, authority, and laws.  Break them and die.  In the case of the heavenly and covenantal kingdom, die eternally!

  Which of the councicular decisions would Brother Ed like to say are correct and which are not?   If the creedal statements of the Church are erroneous in one area, then the entire structure of what we believe is a toss up.   I know Brother Ed will  try to say that Scripture is clear enough that we should be able to easily figure out what is true and what is not , but just the opposite is true.  The very need for councils and creeds came from the fact that there were numbers of dissenting opinions regarding the Deity of Christ, his nature and person,  the Trinity, and a host of other doctrines,  despite the presence of  the epistles of St. Paul's and others.  I well note in the writings of St. Clement of Rome that he complains that those who have heretical opinions of true are those who are 'sola scriptura'.  Not a good testimony, guys.  And it seemed to repeat itself in 1517.

  These dissenters came in with Scripture, and in the case of St. Athanasius,  almost took over the whole Church.  Brother Ed owes his allegiance to the Trinity to the councils and to the unbending steadfastness of St. Athanasius ("Athanasius conta mundum) and the Pope (whom he despizes) of that day who supported Athanasius.   Elsewise we would all be damned  Arian heretics.

  That is putting uninspired human interpretations into a position above or on a par with Scripture.

  But Brother Ed's uninspired  Preterist doctrines are sure fire orthodoxy!   Again, he paints himself into a corner by his insistance that there is no sure authority in matters of correctly interpreting the Word of God, thereby leaving the door open for any and all of the 28,000 Protestant denominations to claim equal orthodoxy to his.  And by what authority will he rebuke all comers?  The Word of God?   They will appeal to it also.  The leading of the Holy Spirit in teaching him proper interpretation?  They will claim the same thing (some with the added touches of supposed tongues and miracles).

  If Christ established a Church by the ordaining of leadership and the giving of authority to The Twelve, by what possible dint of imagination could we believe that He would abandon the Church right at the point when it was necessary to set out kingdom orthodoxy?  I cannot believe that you can't see the problems this causes.  If the Church was allowed to go into heterodoxy or apostasy,  then She would cease to be the Church and the promise of Daniel 2:19 goes down in flames.  The promises of Matthew 16: 18-19 also crash and burn.

  And please, please don't try to "spiritualize" the Church.  Please don't try to make it that vast unseen body of "true believers".   How then do you possibly tell who is a true believer among the 28,000 sects?  How do you know among them who has been given the authority to define and properly interpret the Word of God when you cannot even tell who is a true believer (unless you can see the hearts of men -- a perogative given to the Holy Spirit alone!).   The Early Fathers didn't understand the Church in this way and neither will the Scriptures.  It is a visible body just as Israel was a visible body.  It is the seen representation and authority on earth of the unseen and true authority in Heaven.

 

Heb 9:23 ¶ It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

 

24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

 

Yes, the true is Heaven (study revelations to see the heavenly realities) but there is a representation of the heavenly right here on earth.  It is seen, it has authority, and it is a pattern of that eternal state in which the covenant keepers shall worship the Father in love and praise.  An "invisible" church cannot do this.  It represents nothing and it has NO AUTHORITY over the lives of men.   And if reconstructionism is true,  an unseen Church will not be able to rule over the world,  for there will be no hierarchy and no seat of authority and no headship over the world.   Reconstructionists look for a visible Church to "christianize" the world as per Ezek. 47.    What a laugh that is going to be when they finally figure out that it is going to be the historic Catholic Church if they are correct.

  The claim that the "Romanist" pope (by the way, Brother Ed, WHO is your pope? -- we all have one, you know!) is above Scripture is just laughable.    Obviously Brother Ed has not read the Catholic Catechism.  Obviously he is unaware that the Pope cannot speak without the Magisterium ruling first.  The Pope is not a dictator in the sense that Ed is speaking of.    He is the shepherd among shepherds and the Patriarch of the Church.  It was not the Pope who dictated that the doctrine of the Trinity was orthodoxy.  It was the council and then the Pope closed the council by putting his imprimateur upon the rulings of the council of Nicea.   I suppose this would be okay, but when the Pope misses the Preterist viewpoint, then he is an uninspired scoundrel of the worst sort.  Make up your mind, Ed.  We cannot pick and choose what we like of Church history and teachings and call that orthodoxy and jettison the rest.  Or do you like the schism, the arguings, the anathemas being lobbed around like grenades as each one picks and chooses his own orthodoxy under his own authority?

 

It was not necessary to define the Trinity until the Arian heresy came along.   It was then that the Council of Nicea convened and brought forth, in its authority, the definitive doctrines of Christ's person which we adhere today.  Perhaps in the future there will be an eschatological council to settle this issue.  If there is,  I assure you that such council will be binding upon all believers, or else there is no authority binding upon anyone and the earthly corpus of professing believers will stay in schism for the rest of time.

 

Oh, and by the way,  if they are uninspired HUMAN interpretations from the councils, then so is yours and you have no right to bind my conscience as such.  Stop complaining then that no one bows down to your interpretation of Scripture in regards to the full preterist view. You have no more authority than the councils do,  therefore, you have no right to bind anyone's conscience.

 

 

Ed then writes of Gary North:

 

Of course, North is not advocating changing any of the Biblical content of the creeds or confessions, but rather merely the interpretations and applications that have been added to the Biblical material, the same way full preterists are. Are the Reformers and reconstructionists the only ones who have the right to formulate new creeds, catechisms and confessional statements? And if the earlier creeds, confessions and catechisms were such infallible bastions of orthodoxy, why did the Reformers in various European countries compose new ones or make changes to them?

 

The answer to this is rather obvious.  They were REBELLING. Not only against the Church of Rome,  but finally against each other.  They didn't like the current corruption of the Church (which I probably wouldn't have liked either), but rather than stay in the Church and work and pray towards reformation within , which Erasamus did,  they decided to allow full vent to their carnal nature and fleshly lusts to be their own authorities and leave the Church.

 

 Ga 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

 

 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

 

 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

You can try to call the reformers noble all you want.  The obvious conclusion from their strife, seditions, and heresies is that they were in the flesh,  not in the Spirit of God.  Unless you can show me a verse of Scripture giving them permission to sever the Church and rend it into thousands of pieces, then they were wrong.

 

And as to your fallacious statement regarding Gary North's (this is, by the way, the same genius who proclaimed the end of the world in Y2K -- how inspired is this guy?) statements on developement of Church epistomology :

 

To sum up: North says that if there is really ethical/epistemological/cultural progress in history because of Christ's favor and gifts in behalf of His Church, then there must necessarily be “improvements” and “revisions” in the creeds, even in the ecumenical creeds! To deny this one must be a “fool or a heretic.”

 

This is just a pure crock.   Sorry,   I just can't say it any other way.  The idea of epsitomology does not take a foundational and germinal truth, such as an oak tree in seed, and make it grow up into a fig tree!   The Church established baptismal regeneration (covenantalism by Sacraments which work ex opere operato),  the Real Presence in the Eucharist,  the mediatorial priesthood,  and a number of other distinctly CATHOLIC seeds which North, in his Calvinist blindness, insists must grow and mature into something else?    This is patent nonsense.   Oak seeds do not produce lemon trees and the Real Presence of the Early Fathers doesn't become the Real Absence of Presbyterian "sacramentalism".   Luther's "justification by faith alone" was not,  according to Anglican theologian and historian Alister McGrath, not even known before Luther brought it forth from his tormented mind.  What seed did that grow out of,   having never been taught for 1500 years?   Reformed people make some strange statements when they are trying to justify the rebellion of  1517.

 

To be “outside creedal orthodoxy” is not the same as being outside biblical orthodoxy. One can be biblically orthodox without being creedally orthodox if the creeds have any biblically un-orthodox “interpretations and applications” in them.

 

Once again,  you step on a land mine without realizing it!   "IF the creeds have any biblically un-orthodox 'interpretations and applications' in them".   Well, if they do,  then you and I are reduced to having no other authority over our spiritual lives than our own understandings.  Bad news for those who are not as well trained and possesive of a fine mind like you,  Brother Ed.  Not everyone has the time and the training to spend years parsing the Greek and doing textual evaluations to determine which of the Creedal statements should be considered true and which false.  But worse than that is this:  if even one part of the Creed is false, the whole ship sinks with it.  You have, in fact, no guarentee that the whole thing isn't a marvelous pack of lies or that the Arians, the Monophysites,  the Donatists, the Nestorians, ad infinitum, aren't really right after all.  The Creed is like a chain and when you sever one link,  the whole thing lets go and the ship of the Church is set adrift to the whims of every one who THINKS that the Holy Spirit is leading him in a new direction and into new truths.

 

That is exactly the case here. Gentry and I both subscribe to the same list of biblical events and doctrines in the creeds. The difference is the time and nature of fulfillment “interpretations” that have been applied to those doctrines. Gentry seems to think full preterists are tampering with the biblical material in the creeds, when in fact we are only correcting the erroneous interpretations that have crept into them. There is a big difference

 

Indeed there is a big difference!    It is the diference between truth and lies!  Where is YOUR pedigree for infallibility?  What evidence do I have that you are above the rest of the massa damnata in your ability to infallibly interpret Scripture and set forth your own creedal statements (remember: creedum simply means "I believe" -- this whole paper by Brother Ed is a rather lenthy creedum) as binding upon the Church and infallibly correct?  I have shown above that Christ DID give a certain body of men that authority and promise of leading into all truth.  Brother Ed,  I don't remember seeing you name among them!  I did show that the charism of this authority was passed down by the laying on of hands.  Are you part of that lineage?  No?  Then I can more easily charge you with error than I can the Nicene Creed, although this is not what I am trying to do.  I am trying to show you that either we have a single authority upon earth which we respect, even if in disagreement with it,  and obey,  or we have a free-for-all.  Once you toss out the authority of the Creeds and make it subject to your interpretation,  you open the door for the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, and every other screwball cult to claim the same thing.  You destroy the foundations of the faith.

 

Finally, though the Church Fathers are “fathers” in a sense, and are of real value to us, they are also the “Church Babies” in another sense. All this should be born in mind when it comes to their haphazard testimony... [emphasis added]

 

I accuse Jim Jordan of setting up straw men with this statement.  Yes, they were "babies in the faith",  but Brother Jordan does not seem to be able to differentiate between private and fallible statements, some of which were downright silly, and the authority vested in the Church structure represented by The Twelve.  The promise of Christ is that The Twelve would be led into all truth and the Church would not be overcome by the gates of hell and death.  By the premise of many of  the reformed whom I have had discourse with, the Church was overrun by pagans almost before the  vapor trails of our Lord's ascension disapated,  thus making Christ a liar and unable to protect those to whom He had promised protection.  It was therefore, not THE Gospel (a common accusation of the reformed, since they restored the "true gospel") but something else which the Church carried to the world and damned millions of souls with.  What kind of Lord is that?  Certainly not one who keeps His promises of being the Great Shepherd of the sheep, the protector of the Church, the Husband of the Bride, and the one who leads into all truth.  

 

When the Church Fathers made private statements, like the one about Christ living to be 50,  no one ran to convene a council because it was understood that this was a private idea and not part of Church dogma as defined by the depositum fidei.   But when heretic Arias started spouting off and contradicting that deposit of faith which The Twelve had received,  the response was to call a council to AUTHORITIVELY settle this issue so as to protect the Church from heresy.  Brother Jordan needs to start thinking through his statements before he spouts off.

 

How much confidence and authority can we place upon the church “fathers” and their creeds in those doctrinal areas (like eschatology) that they really spent little time with?

 

They were not concerned with eschatology,  they were concerned with heretic Arias.  And we do not put confidence in THEM, we put our confidence in the Holy Spirit's protection and leading of the Church, meeting in the authority vested in them, according to the promise of Christ that the Church would not be overrun by the gates of hell.  It is not man, but God we trust to keep His promise.  If the Full Preterists keep making the amount of noise they are making, and it begins to infest the Church,  I do guarentee that the  Church will hold an Eschatological Council to settle this some day.    I do hope Brother Ed or one of his eschatalogical descendants will bring his argumentations and reasonings before them for consideration.  Who knows?   Maybe there will be an answer from the Holy Spirit which will make all sides happy.  

 

You state that Creedalism inevitably leads to Catholicism or Orthodoxy.  But not just Creedalism leads there, but several other factors,   the first of which for me is a proper understanding of the covenant and how it works.  Calvin's paradigm of the covenant is seriously warped by his strictly judicial view of it.   He forces the covenant into the mold which Luther formed with his idea of "forensic justification" and by doing so strips it of being a family covenant between God and his children.  It is reduced to a mere contract between man and God, which it is not.    Biblical covenantalism is a relationship between two people in which then give themselves totally to one another with certain terms to the relationship.   A "john" and whore can make a contract, which is what Calvin's understanding of the covenant reduces man to - a contract maker.   But the Church is a family in which we give ourselves to our loving Father and He gives Himself in intimacy to us.   THAT is a Biblical covenant!

 

It is not without reason that the intense study of the covenant led Scott Hahn back to the Church our Lord founded.  There are some who treated Scott Hahn with deference and respect for the depth of his studies who now talk about him as if he couldn't think his way out of a paper bag!   I would assume that such a statement as "creedalism inevitably leads to Romanism"  would be reflective of the idea that Scott and others were mindlessly herded into the Church of Rome by the creeds.  No,  we have been drawn by the love of a wonderful Father who offered us a place in the family by dint of the covenant of Blood His  Son purchased for us.

 

There is also the issue of authority and chaos,  church history,  and promises of our Lord to The Twelve and to the Church.   There is an awful lot to sweep under the rug if one wants to remain reformed, and the pile just got too big for me to ignore or try to explain away with twisted hermeneutics and historical ignorance anymore.

 

I am at a loss to explain how Montanism, chiliasm, sacerdotalism, the doctrine of purgatory, indulgences, Maryolatry, baptismal regeneration, Arianism, Pelagianism, and a host of other departures from biblical orthodoxy could ever develop in the church

 

This is a completely misleading statement.  Arianism did not develope in the Church.  The Church rejected it.  It is not a part of the Catholic Catechism.   Neither is Pelagianism,  Nestorianism,   Montanism, and a host of other heresies which cropped up and were stomped out by the Church acting in her authority.  Baptismal regeneration is a Biblical doctrine which the reformers cast out (actually, it was the Puritans, since we know that Luther  taught it).  Sacerdotalism is the reality of John 6:53,  the need we have to meet with our Lord through the Sacraments.  This would take another whole set of writings to defend,  but it is highly covenantal in nature.  The theological novum of "forensic justification" is in conflict with the Sacraments, but that does not mean that either Calvin or Luther is right.   The Sacraments are right and they are our life in Christ as He ministers grace to us through them.   Brother Ed sets up strawmen and knocks them over to prove that his interpretation of Eschatology is infallible and the councils, who acted in the promise of Christ's guidance through the authority of the Church, are not.

 

Why haven’t the Roman and Greek churches abandoned all their errors in view of the great reforms clearly delineated by the Protestant Reformers?

 

Specifically because these "great reforms" were not reforms of the abuses prevalent, such as selling God's grace as Tetzel was doing,  but were teachings  which denied the covenantal work of God, destroying the foundational doctrines of the Church and replacing them with theological novums that the Church had never known.   In other words,  these were heresies, which is why the Church still refuses to adopt them.   As long as we are recommending books,  I would recommend the following:

 

NOT BY FAITH ALONE  by Robert Sungenis       (Justification)

JESUS PETER AND THE KEYS  by Butler,  Dahlgren and Hess.   (Authority)

A FATHER WHO KEEPS HIS PROMISE  by Scott Hahn    (Covenant)

 

                                                BIBLICAL PERSPICUITY

 

Whether you are a preterist or a futurist, this continuation of the imminency idea is embarrassing and destructive to the church’s integrity as interpreters

 

Not at all.  Partial preterists are not continuing the immenency idea.  We know that  the immenency of Scriptures referred to AD70.  It is the premillenialists who constantly wind up with egg all over their faces, especially those who just cannot resist setting dates based on Jewish numerology and reading the newspapers.

 

There is a huge difference between denying an event and not understanding the how of its happening.   For instance,   St. Augustine,  in writing about the Real Presence of the Lord in the Euchairst, said   "....make a throne of your hands and into them receive your King."   Had you asked him in what form the Lord is present in the Eucharist,  he would not have been able to answer with clarity, indeed,  for a time there were four differing understandings in the Church which were permitted to be taught until the Church defined Transubstantiation in response to reformed ideas which denied the Real Presence.     St. Augustine never denied the truth in his lack of ability to define it.     And the developement of this doctrine does not mean that Augustine was wrong,  for Augustine indeed acknowledged the Real Presence.  His not defining the how of its reality does not force him into being in error.

 

In like manner,  the Church did not have to understand the time elements of the coming of Christ to acknowledge the truth of that event.    Their infallibility rests on the depositum fidei,  of which part the return of the Lord was an essential.  Had the Church come to the conclusion of Hymaneus and Philetus,  then we would have serious reason to doubt the integrity of the Church as keepers and interpretors of the truth.

 

Furthermore,  there is real evidence, as I will show later, that the graves are going to be opened and all within will come out to final judgement.  Is this just a localized idea which only applied to all who were buried before AD70?  Or is the language that of the general resurrection of the dead?   According to Rev. 20,  there are two resurrections,  the first of which is only participated in by those who are blessed to eternal life, and the second of which is the resurrection where the wicked are condemned.   This second resurrection takes place at the end of the thousand years.  The Councils, in forming the Creeds,   may not have understood the timing perfectly,  but they did understand the Scriptures which say that the graves will be opened and all come forth to the final Judgement.  As long as I can dig up the remains of those who have died before me, this hasn't happened yet!!

 

For the preterist it is only somewhat puzzling, but for the futurist it is fatal. If Jesus and the apostles taught imminency (as in fact they did), then a non-fulfillment destroys the inspiration and integrity of Christ and the apostles.

 

This goes a long way to proving my point.  Jesus and the Apostles did indeed teach the imminency of His return.  Preterists such as Brother Ed are eager and willing to take Christ's words at face value and not rearrange them by using esoteric interpretive grids or other theological gymnastics.  Would that they would be so eager to take the rest of Scriptures,  especially Christ's promises to St. Peter and the Church in such a simple and direct light.  Surely the Early Fathers understood things in this fashion, as attested to by their writings  which honor the seat of St. Peter in the Church of Rome.  Brother Ed wants us to believe that Christ was reliable when He promised to return before all those of "this generation" died off, but that He is a little bit less than reliable when He promises that the gates of hell will not corrupt the Church, especially in regards to the Creeds.  Sorry, brother,  but you can't have your cake and eat it.

 

All branches of Christendom (except maybe those who worship the creeds) recognize that our understanding of Scripture is getting progressively better. We did not start out with a perfect understanding. We instead started out with a perfect revelation, but a very imperfect understanding of it.

 

This is called "developement of doctrine" and is a good thing.    But developement of doctrine does not destroy the foundational doctrines which were part of the depositum fidei.  When the reformers developed their ideas of the Real Absence of Christ from the Eucharist,  they were destroying the foundations laid by Christ in John 6 and understood by the Church as expressed by the Early Church Fathers.  Yes, the how and whys of a doctrine may not have been understood completely,  but the reformers went way beyond how and why when they developed a whole new theology.  They were not interested in cleaning the dirt off the existing doctrines of the faith.  The wanted to start a whole new kind of Christianity which had been unknown for 1500 years.  It was a Christianity disconnected from the Old Covenant,  from the authority of the Church, from the promises of Christ to lead His Church, and from any kind of good exegetical understanding of God's dealings with His creation as family.

 

Note the words of Schaff in the quote above: “In the best case a human creed is only an approximate and relatively correct exposition of revealed truth, and may be improved by the progressive knowledge of the Church.”

 

I will concur only to the point of saying that improvement of the Creeds is not the same as destroying foundational truths.  Would it be an improvement of the Nicene Creed for the Jehovah's Witness to trot out his Biblical proof texts and prove that Christ was only a created being rather than the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity?   Why not?   After all, if the creeds are subject to revision and have no authority, then they are not only not binding upon the consciences of believers, they are subject to wholesale revision and even possibly being totally scrapped in favor of some "new revelation" which comes by study.  Without the Creeds having authority,  who is Ed Stevens,  Phillip Schaff, or anyone else to bind our consciences to the parts that they like?  Without authority,  tell me why the JW's can't insist upon their interpretation?  And please, once again I beg you,  don't say that the Bible teaches so because the existence of 28,000+ sects of "Christians" proves otherwise.

It proves that the Scriptures, far from being perspicuous,  are very murky to the human mind, even the best trained mind.   Do you see the problems that stripping the creeds of authority creates?

 

And we must never forget that some of those same people formulated other doctrines and practices that have since been found to be in error,

 

I'm not about to let you get away with that, Ed.  Suppose you  NAME those doctrines for us so that we can check the veracity of that statement!!   You show me where the Church put into Creedal format that which She later had to backpedal on and say that it was in error.  The Church might have meted out certain disciplines, such as not eating meat on Fridays as a discipline for its members to practice self-sacrifice and self-denial in the hopes of spiritual growth,   but that was not a creedal statement, that was a discipline.  Do you know the difference between a discipline and dogma?   Doesn't seem so.

 

and went to extremes in dealing out cruel punishments upon those who disagreed with them. They condemned and killed men and women whom we now know to have been saints. This should be cause for pause before we enshrine these men’s opinions on a level with or above Scripture.

 

You mean like the Protestants, right?   Remember how they spent all their free time -- drowning Anabaptists.  Or if they were Puritans,  imprisoning Presbyterians.  This is an ad hominum attack which dissappoints me.  I thought that Brother Ed was far above this kind of nonsense when trying to discuss ISSUES.  Such attacks are the last resort of people in a weak position to defend their ideas and I have never thought of Ed Stevens as not being able to defend what he believes.

 

Some creedalists with whom I exchanged email stated that this whole issue of creedal orthodoxy is a matter of authority. I agree with them.

 

So what is your authority?  Be careful now, Ed, because when you say "sola scriptura" you begin a slippery slide down the slope.  There are multitudes of godly men who disagree greatly with us Preterists who claim the same thing.   By what authority are YOU right and they wrong?  Can you prove this to me and others?  Where is your imprimateur of infallibility?

 

 I would go even further to assert that ultimate authority is bound up with inspiration and infallibility. Nothing can be ultimately authoritative unless it is infallible and inspired. The Roman Church knows this and that’s why they had to develop the doctrine of the infallibility (inspiration) of the Pope.

 

Again, you show your lack of understanding of the whole issue.  But that's okay.  I used to think the same thing.  Look,  if our Lord gave the authority to St. Peter, and by extension, his successors, to rule over the Church with binding edits and pronouncements,  do you really think that He would let that weak-willed fisherman rule out of his own abilities.  C'mon!!   Do you think he would allow St. Peter's successors,  men with feet of clay, to hold office over the Church and not give them a charism of infallibility?  We see very, very visibly what happens when this DOES HAPPEN.  Look at Protestantism.  It is the direct result of the flesh ruling without the leading and protection of the Spirit of God.    Thousands of doctrines and understandings.  Thousands.   As opposed to ONE holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church with ONE CATECHISM of beliefs which you either believe or you are not a Catholic.  Period!   Just a simple reading of the Early Fathers will show that the seed of infallibility was understood by the Church long before the Vatican Council of 1870 ratified it as doctrine.

 

The creedalists are doing the same thing with the councils and creeds. They have to vest infallibility and inspiration into the creeds in order to use them as an ultimate authority. Authority and inspiration go together. If the men who composed the councils were not inspired in the same way Scripture writers were, then their products (the creeds) have no more authority than any other writings of uninspired men. More value? Yes! More authority? No!

 

Yes.  Equal authority.   Not more,  but the very same authority which was promised to the Church,  not to write NEW DOCTRINES, but to infallibly interpret those things which were given by inspired pen so that the heretics would not be able to take over the Church.    You again are making a strawman by comparing inspiration with authority as if they are different.   Who gave you the right to do this with these two items?   Inspiration also comes from authority.  If not, then the prophets' inspired prophecies carried no weight at all.     If the councils are not authorative, then why don't you toss out your Bible, which was canonized by the AUTHORATIVE DECLARATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?  Stop being a hypocrite and make up your own Bible.  (Well, you sort of have done that since you don't recognize the Apocryphal Books).

 

Every generation of Christians must be perceptive and vigilant. We can never assume that any uninspired document or system of theology is perfect.

 

Holy Cats!!  What a statement from someone who follows uninspired men who rebelled against the authority of the Church.   Brother Ed is all too willing to find John Calvin infallible and perfect, as are all Calvinists I deal with,  but not so willing to consider the Apostles and their disciples as such when they dealt with these huge issues in the Church in councils.  You think this isn't so,  you just question the veracity of  the Westminster Confession of Faith and watch the sparks start to fly!   And to top things off, the Apostles had promises of divine leadership and protection which John Calvin was not privy to.   This is amazing! 

 

Certainly, the saving essentials are simple enough for a child to understand, but all the subtle nuances of biblical typology may never be exhaustively unveiled even though mankind has an eternity to interpret it.

 

True.    So I would ask why Luther and Calvin felt the need to completely change the saving essentials of the faith into something that the Church never taught?   Teaching a partial preterist position leaves intact one of the essential doctrines of the faith, the future, bodily resurrection of the end time.  Brother Ed would have us change that which the Church has declaratively stated as truth in council.  This is not a matter of private interpretation.  As I have said before ad nauseum,  this is a matter of authority in the Church and the promises of Christ to lead His Church into all truth.   There is something serious here when Christ's promises are denied under the guise of "developement of truth".  Does Brother Ed want to really stand before the Lord and explain to Him why he felt that those promises of authority to the Apostles and their successors were not to be believed?

 

                                               WITHOUT A CANON?

 

In many of His parables and discourses, Jesus taught what life would be like in the kingdom when it arrived. The church only had the “earnest” and “seal” of their kingdom inheritance during that transitional generation (AD 30-70). If anything, we in the post-70 period have a more relevant and applicable revelation. We are now in the kingdom. The full inheritance is here. All the things Jesus, Paul and the other apostles taught about the kingdom now apply fully to us. Several prophetic passages have ongoing fulfillment in the kingdom (i.e. Ezek. 47:1-12 and Rev. 21:24-22:5).

 

I have given verses showing that the "earnest" has to do with the inheritance of eternal life.  To deny this is to create a problem soteriologically.  If the kingdom is here as the full inheritance,  of what point is the judgement of Rom. 2: 5-10 which says that ALL MEN will stand and answer for their works and inherit either eternal life or eternal death?  It breaks the parable of the Prodigal in our lives,  since we have inherited the full kingdom, we don't have to worry about falling away,   but instead only transferring from the earthly kingdom to the heavenly reality.  If we get the entire inheritance of eternal life now, then how could St. Paul insist that we could lose our salvation?  Or wasn't that written for future generations of Christians?  Just those churches before AD70? 

 

Why would he write to the Galatians,  first addressing them as brethren and then later telling them that he was afraid that he had labored in vain with them since they were about to apostacize?   Only if they had the ability to squander their inheritance by throwing away the earnest of the Spirit would this be true.  Is Brother Ed saying that there was one set of covenantal rules under the "1000 years "  millenium dispensation (using his time frame) and a second set of rules for making covenant with God now that the kingdom is come in full?   Where does he get this from?

 

If the Church is the kingdom,  which both the parable of Matthew 21 and the statements of Brother Ed seem to  prove, then the kingdom was already extant in Christ's day.   It was just that the new administration was established in fullness in AD 70.  The covenantal kingdom simply changed hands from the wicked nation of Israel, the murderers of the Son of the owner of the vineyard, to the Church which would bring in fruits in due season. 

 

What needs to be proved here is that the permanent kingdom we are in has differing covenantal regulations for entrance into the covenantal family than the ones between Acts 2 and AD 70.   During that period of time, the command was:

 

Ac 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

 

Ac 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

 

This was how covenant was made with God through the work of Christ.  Being baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27 & Rom. 6:3) took those in the first century out of the covenantal condemnation of Adam and placed them into the covenant of Christ for salvation.  This is why baptism saves, not because it has some magical quality to it, but because it is a cutting of covenant with God by our entering in faith into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and thus, by intimate union with Him, places us in a place of safety and rest -- the Church.

 

Is there another way now to get into the kingdom, since Ed insists with his full preterist position that we are in the eternal kingdom?   Is he willing to scrap the Church and change everything for the sake of saving face theologically?   He seems so, for he has stated publically that since the eternal kingdom is come, we must now look at all our worship patterns to see if they are really necessary.

 

According to them, we are still saddled with the OT “jots and tittles” until the physical “heaven and earth” pass away. Who is really robbing us of a fully relevant NT canon?

 

With this I most certainly can agree.   The types and shadows are passed away into the fullness of Christ.   It is in the Catholic Church alone that this fullness of liturgy and worship is present, existing in a form which is a parallel to that great worship taking place in the Revelation.  Protestantism, meanwhile, continues to degenerate into a dog-and-pony show designed to entertain the massa damnata.

 

If Brother Ed or any other Presbyterian could cut through the rhetoric about the Catholic Church and really look at what the liturgy symbolizes and does, they would find the most amazing parallels with the Jewish liturgies of worship.   The only, but most important,  difference, is that we have THE Lamb of God as the center of our worship.  The faithful Jews were looking towards Him and their ceremonies reflected this.  Such fulfillment is why we now do not continue Jewish liturgy,  but instead have the liturgy of the New Covenant with our Lamb as the center of worship.

 

                                        HERMENEUTIC FAILURE

 

If the perspicuity of Scripture is so easy and clear on eschatology (as Gentry has alleged), how do we account for such diversity of opinion among the partial preterists?

 

Indeed!  If the perspecuity of Scripture is so easy and clear,  how do we know who is right concerning the thousands of differing interpretations of all the major doctrines?   To whom do we entrust our eternal soul?   I think by now you realize I am making a well worn case for the Church as the interpretor of Scripture rather than for private interpretation.

 

For instance, this seems perhaps a bit simplistic, but since there are 280 occurances of the word "covenant" in Scripture,  since our God began creation by making a covenant with Adam (which he promptly broke) and finished the work of redemption by redeeming humanity through the Second Adam making the New Covenant,  it seems to me that any interpretation of Scripture should be run through a covenantal grid to see if it fits.  In other words, the so called "clear teaching" of  the Anabaptists that baptism is only for believers dries up and blows away when we present that teaching to the covenant.  We see that the covenant must have a rite of entry which not only acts as a sign of the covenant, but also accomplishes exactly what it signifies.  We know this by studying the Old Covenant and seeing that this is exactly what circumcision did.   We can know therefore, that since our Lord established  a New Covenant, there must be a similar sign and seal which not only signifies our death, burial, and resurrection in Christ as we it is done, but actually makes that a reality.   Thus we see that immersion baptism is the best sign and seal of the New Covenant.  Anabaptist claims are a myth which come from their hatred of anything "Romish".   Sometimes our prejudices against a certain people blind us to truths which are nonetheless there.

 

But ultimately,  it is right because the Church says it is right, and if my understanding of the covenant did not fit the Church's definition (which it does), then guess who would be wrong and have to change?

 

                                         RESURRECTION ERRORS

 

I have nothing but admiration for the first several paragraphs of Brother Ed's dissertation on the resurrection.   It is very true that most people speak of the resurrection as if it is only the body of flesh which is to be resurrected without considering the greater implications of the kind of death which the human race has suffered.

 

But man was separated from God’s spiritual fellowship that very day. To be outside God’s fellowship and presence is Death.

 

This is the same death which Bishop Ray Sutton speaks of in his book THAT YOU MAY PROSPER -- Dominion by Covenant.  It is coveanantal death.   We are indeed separated from God,  and that is indeed death.

 

It is merely a question of WHEN we get that new kind of body. Gentry says we are raised physically and then later changed into that ultimate spiritual body. Harris and many other orthodox Christians (including preterists) say we are raised with that kind of immortal body. No change after resurrection is needed. And Apostle Paul says it is “sown a natural body, and raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44). Notice he doesn’t say it is sown a natural body, raised a natural body, and then later changed into a spiritual body. There are some important implications that Gentry and many others have missed. Harris has done a great job of clarifying this whole issue.

 

I think that this is one of the issues that the Church will have to face in the next council, which will most likely be an Eschatological Council,  just as Nicea was a council about the Trinity.

 

There is a problem in Evangelical thought which is created by those who apply the promises of the corporate covenant to the individual covenant which we make with God through Christ.  By taking the unconditionality of Christ's corporate covenant and applying it to believers,  the Evangelical assembly has come up with the idea that Christ will secure forever those who believe in Him on earth.   This would be good theology if there weren't those pesky verses in every epistle but  Philemon about apostacizing and losing one's salvation.

 

Our Lord is called the Second Adam in 1 Corin. 15.   In using this phrase, God gives us a covenantal clue which we must track to its conclusion.  Allow me to suggest some ideas relative to this naming of our Lord.

 

We stand condemned in the first Adam.  We were partakers of his covenant breaking and thus,  his state of covenantal death just as surely as Levi paid tithes to Melchisidek while still in Abraham.   This is the principle of organic unity and covenantal headship which the whole human race shares in.   No one is born who can get around this condemnation (Rom. 5:12).

 

But now we have the Second Adam who has restored the covenant of God and has taken the first Adam's place as covenantal head.  In restoring the covenant,  our Lord, as perfect man, is the covenantal head of all who are in Him in the same way that Adam is covenantal head of all who are related to him by means of the flesh of our birth.  When we make covenant with Christ by means of baptism,  we partake of all those positives He has obtained as our covenantal head just as we were partakers of all the negatives which Adam entered into by severence of his covenantal relationship with God.

 

When our Lord returned in AD 70 from performing Yom Kippor in the true Temple in Heaven, made without hands,  just as the corporate sacrifice for  Israel was finished and accepted by the appearence of the High Priest of Israel, so was the New Covenant finalized and shown to be accepted by Christ's return in AD 70.  At that time, those who awaited in Paradise were freed to enter into the heavenlies by virtue of being united with Christ in the New Covenant of His death, burial, and resurrection. (Rom 6:3).  This is the first resurrection and only the righteous have part in it. 

 

Why do I say that?  Because Scripture says so in Revelations:

 

Re 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

 

The first resurrection, which established the covenant, is the resurrection of the believer when they are baptized into Christ,  dying to Adam and their sins and raising to new life spiritually.   There is no condemnation for those who enter into it and stay faithful to it.

 

Therefore, it must be the second resurrection which is spoken of in John:

 

 Joh 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

 

 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

 

Those that are in the graves.  This must indicate the presence of their bodies, or what is left of them,  for some of them shall have been dead for centuries.  That which is in the grave is not the spirit alone.  It is the corpus of the one who has lived an died and it is that which is being talked about being in the grave.

 

The first resurrection was a one time event which took began with the resurrection of our Lord and finished with the return of Christ in AD70 as He came back from performing Yom Kippor in Heaven for the Church.  We participate in it when we are baptized into it, and when the second resurrection takes place, as indicated by John 5:29,  we who have done righteousness by faith in Christ, shall not be condemned because of our participation in the first resurrection.  Those who did not participate in the first resurrection by willful rebellion against God, refusing to make covenant with Him through Christ, or by leaving it by apostasy,  will find that they are participants in the resurrection of evil, much to their dismay.

 

Now,  as far as I can see,  Brother Ed has a huge problem with these verses in John 5:

 

 Joh 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

 

 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

 

This cannot be the first resurrection because all who have part in the first resurrection are not condemned and these people are.  Therefore, I must insist upon two resurrections, as Scripture indicates, and the coming end of the world in time which will usher in the physical resurrection of our bodies to be joined to our already resurrected souls.

 

                                    ANTHROPOLOGICAL ERRORS

 

If physical death was the “death” God threatened Adam with, then Satan told the truth and God lied. Adam didn’t die physically on that day. But he did die spiritually in his relationship to God. It is that spiritual death that is the focus of redemption. And the ultimate resurrection was to reverse whatever “death” God placed on mankind in the beginning

 

Okay, Ed,  I'm going to hold you to that last sentence.  Now, can we allow SCRIPTURE to tell us what "death" means rather than your Calvinist interpretation?

 

Lu 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

 

Hopefully you all recognize this as the ending of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.   The father says that the son had been dead, but now he was alive.  Can we please just once put aside our theological presuppositions and allow Scripture to speak?  The son was dead,   not in the sense of cessation of all bodily functions, not in the sense of leaving the world he was born into, not in the sense of never being able to have another thought out of his free will,  but in the sense of being separated from the father. 

 

SEPARATED -- NOT INSENSATE!!

 

This is important because it directly attacks John Calvin's heretical views of spiritual death and what salvation is.  Anyone building upon Calvin's errors will inevitably construct a edifice which tilts very badly to one side. 

 

Bishop Ray Sutton identified the true nature of death when he spoke of it in his book THAT YOU MAY PROSPER.   He stated, and I believe quite correctly, that it is not state of being spiritually insensate which God is speaking of.  It is the state of being SEPARATED from God covenantally.   Adam is literally tossed out of the Garden.    This is highly suggestive of being thrown out of the household of God and separated as the Prodigal Son was.  I wonder what Adam would have answered had you asked him if he had died on that day when he ate the fruit?  I bet he would have said yes,  I am separated from my Father.

 

Surely God’s plan of redemption focuses on the better things, not just on the physical things

 

It seems like Brother Ed is dismissing the physical as not having any value at all.   This seems perilously close to the Gnostics disdain for those things physical, valuing the spiritual as being the true part of man which God deals with.

 

Christ’s kingdom is not of this physical realm. It is a spiritual kingdom. It requires a spiritual resurrection to get there, not a physical resuscitation. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It requires a different kind of body fitted for heavenly existence.

 

This now starts to get into typical Calvinist baloney about the "spiritual kingdom" and the "invisible church".  How convenient for the Calvinists to rely upon this distorted distinction to validate their rebellion against the kingdom.  Unfortunately for them, Matthew 21: 33-46 simply will not allow for this convenient distinction.  They trash the continuity of the parable by changing the nature of the vineyard in the parable from a physical kingdom (national Israel) to a spiritual kingdom (God only knows what).   Daniel 2 and Matthew 21 insist upon a kingdom which is established here on earth right now.

 

More to the point,  was Adam a physical being or a spiritual being?  I have a blood brother  (a classic Gnostic he) who says that Adam was a strictly spiritual being who, when he sinned, was "cast down into the flesh".    See the disrespect for the flesh?    Being made a fleshly being,  in Gnostic parlance, is part of  the CURSE.  Wow!  If Adam was not a physical being prior to sinning, then the resurrection of the flesh is of no consequence because nothing was lost in that realm when he sinned.  That realm, the realm of the flesh, belongs only to the curse of sin.    And who wants that part of our life resurrected?   The only thing which needs to be restored is the spiritual, which is Brother Ed's insistence.    I find it dangerously close to Gnosticism.

 

We believe spiritual death (the real curse) can be reversed without all the physical consequences being eliminated. Jesus is the only one who was ever promised that His flesh would not suffer decay, because He is the only human who never sinned, and was the only human being who was also God in the flesh and virgin-born.

 

Question:  would Adam's flesh ever have suffered death and decay had he not sinned?  Careful!  Remember that Christ is called the Second Adam,  giving to us a pattern which we believe that Adam could have fulfilled had he not broken the covenant of God.   Would Adam have died, or would he have been assumed into Heaven as was Enoch and Elijah if he had not sinned?   If he had not sinned, he would have "walked with God" just as these most holy men did, therefore, I have every right to think that Adam would have, upon attaining a certain degree of righteousness,  been assumed into Heaven to serve his Father in that locale and continue growing into a more and more spiritual being.  This is  theosis,   the purpose of our creation.   He would have been assumed in the body in which he was created as well as in the soul he was right into Heaven to continue His growth and His leadership as a covenant head.   He would have gone to Heaven a COMPLETE PERSON,  body, soul and spirit! 

 

In fact, I must sadly say that Brother Ed's ideas regarding the resurrection are a very subtle indirect attack upon the Incarnation itself.   Of what purpose the Incarnation if not to show forth the resurrection of the whole person when Christ arose?

 

The seed analogy (1 Cor. 15:35ff) shows that the outer shell is not preserved or resuscitated. It dies and decays. It is still subject to that consequence of being made from dust. For the Christian now after AD 70, resurrection life is already present in us before physical death, because the inside of the seed has been given immortality. The inner man rises into God’s presence with a new kind of body after the outer shell dies.

 

Now that we have more clearly defined the nature of Christ’s resurrection body, we can discuss how much continuity and conformity our resurrection bodies will have with “His glorious body.” (Phil. 3:20-21)

 

That first sentence denies the physical resurrection of Christ.   If we are indeed to be resurrected like him, then ultimately, our graves shall be empty as well.  There was no "shell" left in Christ's grave.  The whole Christ,  the whole man, body, soul, and spirit, was resurrected in a new form which had obvious differences and benefits.  I could go along with the seed analogy IF there wasn't the issue of  Christ's EMPTY tomb to deal with.  His body, nor any remains of it being in the cave is a contradiction to the seed analogy, therefore, we must understand that analogy in a different way than what Brother Ed is insisting upon.  We do come forward from that shell we have been living in and experience the resurrection state of our Lord.   But does this mean that we deny the "coming from the graves" of John 5 at a later time?

 

It further seems to me,  having pulled a young corn plant from the ground and examined the roots from whence the plant came to find nothing left of the seed itself,  to understand that seed, that shell as being part of the plant.  It is not left behind,     but in the roots and stalk of the plant, it is "raised" in a different and much more glorious form than what was  planted in the ground.  Ed's analogy falls apart here.   When  Brother Ed can show me a whole seed left in the ground, firmly attached to the roots, then I will accept his interpretation of the "seed analogy".     The agricultural people of Israel probably understood this teaching much better than either of us do.

 

Everyone else was told, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This means physical death is the natural consequence of being human.

No, Ed.   Physical death is NOT the natural consequence of being human.  You have to prove that had Adam not sinned and had been able to continue to   eat of the fruitn of the Tree of Life,   that he would have still died  and his body rotted as a result of his humanity.   Had Adam not sinned,  he would have matured in to everything which Christ became in His flesh, with the exception of being God in essence (transcendence).  You are making a total unwarranted assumption

 

One thing is sure: physical death is not the “Death” that was threatened by God against Adam’s disobedience, and therefore not the death that is reversed by the eschatological resurrection event. Jesus nailed the “ penalties” for our sins to the cross. Physical death seems to be a planned, “natural” consequence of being human and living on earth.

 

Physical AND spiritual separation from God is part of the curse of covenant breaking.   Are you going to tell me that God would separate the spiritual part of Adam  from Himself and leave the physical part to continue on forever?   Physical death is the result of separation from God because God is life itself.  In the Garden,  Adam had access to the tree of  life,  which apparently is a reference to some sort of intimate union with Christ (Rev. 22:14),  a  prefiguring of the crucifixtion.  He is the True Vine,  the fruit of which gives unto us life eternal.    Adam,   separated from God in the Garden, no longer able to access the Tree of Life("lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and life for ever") began to physically deteriorate in that very day.   This deterioration,  a result of the covenantal curse, was never intended as part of being human.  Brother Ed must prove this and I see nothing which indicates this.

Paul’s seed analogy keeps the body there, but changes its nature at the resurrection.

 

This could well be, but the point must still be that the grave EMPTIES!!  I do not insist that the shell remain the same,  but I most certainly insist that the shell leave the ground and change into something other than what it was at some time in the future.  If this does not happen, then we are not being resurrected in likeness of His glorious resurrection and there should be somewhere some sort of remnants of the shell which was our Lord's abode while here on earth.  Why didn't Christ leave His "shell" here on Earth?  After all, if raised as a spiritual body,  there would have been no need for the Lord to have His  physical body.  Superfluous to the need, that body would still be here for us to see, right?

 

Brother Ed goes to paragraphs to deny any linkage to the Gnostics, and I am glad to see that,  but unless our graves are EMPTY on the resurrection day when time ceases to be and the eternal state arrives,  he is not being very convincing in his attempts to distance himself from the Gnostics.  I would just like to hear him say, quite clearly, that just as Lazurus' physical body arose,  just as Christ's tomb is empty,  so will our graves be empty of all physical remains of our earthly life and we will become once again creatures of body, soul, and spirit as God made Adam.  What Adam lost covenantally by his disobedience,  Christ regained.   Our Lord,  as Second Adam,   has taken the place of the first Adam.   By doing so,  He has reinstated the program of sonship which our heavenly Father began with Adam.  The whole thrust of that original plan is seen in the results of Christ's successful covenantal sonship:

 

Heb 2:10 ¶ For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.  

 

The restoration of God's plan MUST involve the body or it has broken continuity with the original plan in the Garden.  For some reason, God chose to use matter to express His creative nature and within which to create  a son (Luke 3: 38)   who would have sons.   Adam, as a physical and spiritual being,  bore the image of his Father.   To restore this broken image, it is not good enough that we be just "spiritual" beings, disembodied ghosts floating around Heaven,  but we must be restored body and soul from whence we have fallen in Adam.

 

Christ, as both fully human and fully deity,  consented to take upon Himself a robe of flesh and become the "Second Adam."  By doing this,   He entered fully into the experience of being human,  took Adam's place, and restored all that Adam lost.  He is the "firstfruits" of all that God will restore of Adam's loss.  That He was fully man means that whatever He experienced, we will experience the same, including the glorious change and reanimation of our dead "shells" into something which was Adam's ultimate goal and is glorious beyond our understanding.

 

What was the nature of the “change” for the living saints at AD 70? (1 Cor. 15:51ff) Did it change their physical bodies and take them to heaven in a literal rapture event like J. S. Russell, E. Hampden-Cook and Milton S. Terry have suggested, or did they simply “put on” immortality which would make their spiritual body ready for them to rise with immediately at physical death? This later view is the one I prefer. Having immortality and a new body prepared for them to live in God’s presence was certainly a “change” in their condition.

 

I see a big problem with Brother Ed's idea of "putting on immortality",   understanding that he would be coming from John Calvin's perseverence of the saints paradigm.  Once saved is not always saved, Ed.  Contrary to popular Evangelical opinion,  salvation is a process.  This is covenantalism 101.    A covenant has oaths/sanctions and the terms of the covenant must be kept or the  promised blessing is forfeited.  If Brother Ed means that we put on immortality in the sense that we are given the "earnest of our inheritance", that is fine, as long as he doesn't make the common Evangelical mistake of confusing the earnest with the actual inheritance, which is eternal life permanent (also called eternal salvation in Scriptures--Heb 5:9).

 

That change not only signaled the completion of the High Priest’s Yom Kippur work in the heavenly Holy of Holies to make atonement fully ours, but made immortality available again for the first time since Adam lost access to it in the Garden

 

Was Adam immortal in the Garden?   There seems to be an awful lot of opinion which would say yes,  but I must disagree, as I think Brother Ed does here by the way he says  "since Adam lost access to it".    I think I hear him saying that immortality was in the Tree of Life, that Adam was not non posse morte in the  Garden,  but merely innocent and therefore able to both grow in righteousness (Godlikeness-- the goal of our lives as believers) and to have access to the Tree of Life to have continuing life.   Loss of access to that Tree was the knell of bodily death for Adam.

 

We really believe the physical world will be around for a long time (if not eternally), and that the “healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2) is an ongoing process that we as Christians are to be inseparably involved in.

 

Indeed.  And if the physical world is to be around for a long time and possibly eternally,  why cannot our physical bodies be part of that blessed state?    The end of time and the beginning of timeless eternity does not have to sound the death knell for this physical world.   

 

There is so much in Ed's description of anthropology which is excellent that I feel like I am being too picky in taking issue with whether or not the graves empty out.   But there is more at stake than just this.   Was the Church acting in authority when it acted in Council? (I know -- there you go again!)   If it was not, then there is no body with authority on earth, therefore there is no authority I am required to listen to.  Anyone can be right and anyone can be wrong.  It then becomes my task to discern truth from among hundreds of competing ideas,   all of whom claim to get their understandings of truth from Scripture.

 

If the Council of Nicea was in error, then Christ failed to do what He promised in protecting the Church from error.  Our foundation is gone and we are set adrift upon the waves of every man's interpretations of Scripture.   The other promises of Christ become suspect also.   This is a place I simply do not want to be in.

 

I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.    Amen.

 

Finally, allow me to go to those who have gently led me back to the Church which our Lord established upon St. Peter and quote their words:

 

"But what consistency is there in those who hold that the brad over which thanks have been given is the Body of their Lord, and the cup His Blood, if they do not acknowledge that he is the Son of the Creator of the world, that is, His Word, through whom the wood bears fruit, and the fountains gush forth, and the earth gives first blade, then ear, then the full grain on the ear?  How can they say that the flesh which has been nourished by the Body of the Lord and by His Blood gives way to corrupton and does not partake of life?  Let them either change their opinion, or else stop offereing the things mentioned......

 

"When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life -- flesh which is nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of Him?

 

TWO  QUOTES FROM ST.   IRANAEUS  "Against Heresies"

 

I find the last sentence to the be crux of this matter.  Is the physical body which we inhabit somehow NOT part of the Body of Christ?  Is it NOT joined intimately with Christ, yea, more intimately than we could expect by the joining of Christ,   taken on our tongues and into our beings,   to our flesh?   Christ enters us, fills us, and makes the whole temple of our Body holy,  so that sin finds no resting place but is so thoroughly cast out that if a man died the second the Eucharist was swallowed he would be ushered immediately into the presence of God without sin in his being!

 

Apparently, judging from the title of St. Iranaeus' text,  and the issues he discusses in the text,  this heresy was around long before Brother Ed was.

 

"Therefore be instructed by this, you fool, that each and every one of the seeds is clothed  in its own body.   Never do you sow wheat and reap barley, and neer did you plant a vine and have it produce figs;  but everything grows in accord with its own nature.  So also the body which was laid in the ground is the same which will rise again.  And in regard to the corrupting and wasting of the body, you ought to be instructed by the figure of the seed; for the seed, when it falls to the ground,  decays and is corrupted, and from its own decaying it grows and blooms and bears fruit."

 

"In regard,  then, to this resurrection of the dead, my beloved, I will instruct you as well as I can.  For from the beginning God created Adam.  From the dust He shaped Him and raised him up.   And if, when Adam did not exist, He made him from nothing, how much easier will it now be for Him to raise him up;  for he has ben sown like a seed in the earth.

 

TWO TREATSIES BY APHRAATES THE PERSIAN SAGE

 

                                    EFFECTS OF THE RESURRECTION

 

I think there is a lot here that has not even been discussed in this chapter.  I really should read some of Max King's works.   Whenever I hear someone talking about the corporate covenant or the corporate raising in resurrection, it immediately gets my interest.    The resurrection of Christ has deeper implications than I believe most Protestants realize.

I go back again to Christ being the Second Adam.  God, not being willy nilly like we are in the use of the lingua fracca we understand (or at least should ) choose to identify Christ by that language for a very specific reason.  I think it necessary that we try to identify parallels with the two Adams to see what conclusions we can arrive at.

 

Who was it that died on the day the forbidden fruit was eaten?   Adam.   Who was it then who needed resurrecting?  Us?   Well, yes, in a sense because we were condemned with Adam (Rom 5:12) by dint of our fleshly unity with him,  but it really was Adam as the covenantal head of the human race.    In this sense, it was Adam who was raised from the dead.   As the coveantal head of all that God had created, not only did he plunge us into his state of separation from God, but all creation shared in that separation from the state of blessed union with God.   Adam severed creation itself from life giving union with God so that all creation groans to be united again with its Creator.

 

When I was visiting Holy Name of Jesus church one morning and observing the Mass,   I set my focus upon the crucifix behind the altar.   As I stared at the corpus of our Lord,  I was suddenly set upon by the sense that I was not staring at the Lord upon that Cross, but upon Adam's bloody and bleeding body.  Adam/Second Adam.   The Second Adam takes the penalty, not for the elect, some special class of believers who alone are the recipients of grace, but for Adam himself,  thus restoring the covenant to its original state as in the Garden.   The effects of sin in this world remain, but the covenant is restored and those who enter into it by baptism may sever themselves from the state of death (separation) the first Adam has plunged them into, and enter into the restored corporate covenant which Christ  has established.

 

With the covenant restored, the family relationship which God desired of Adam is restored also.   The Second Adam becomes the first born of many sons of the covenant,  in effect, the Elder Brother who is the administrator of the covenant blessings.   We come into fillial relationship by adoption.  God calls by His grace and we enter that corporate covenant through the waters of baptism.   We are now in the restored kingdom,  ready for testing and growth in righteousness through that testing.   This is the same program which would have been in effect had Adam never sinned.  Sons and daughters borne to Adam and Eve would have been subject to testing just as we are.    Through growth they would have grown into  righteousness and godlikeness (theosis).  Now, we do the same.  We become like Christ as we grow.   This is the whole purpose of this veil of tears we call earth,  to bring to glory many sons and daughters who will bear the image of their Father.   This was always the plan, and it is restored in Christ.

 

The Jews, the chiliasts of the early centuries and premillennialists today interpret that language materialistically literal, postulating a physical paradise where sickness, poverty, weakness, temptation and all other human problems are removed, within a physical, materialistic environment.

 

And we know they are wrong, don't we?  It is a desire to return to that which is never to be again.  In essence, they are saying that had Adam never sinned,  we would all still be alive in a jungle paradise.    Fanciful.   But not very realistic.   Just the allowance of the tempter in the Garden shows me that there would have been other tests and other trials,  some of which would have undoubtedly involved this physical creation.  No,  an Edenic paradise with no problems at all is a human desire to achieve that which is only achieved after the testings and trials of this earth -- eternal bliss.  That was never even the goal of the Garden, for if it was, surely God would have, in his omnipotent sovereignty,  made it so to be.  That serpent got in there for a reason and totally with divine permission.

 

The difference between Gentry’s view of the resurrection and mine are my past timing of it, and the continuation of human history afterwards. Otherwise we agree that the resurrection would see all the dead up to that point raised and judged and placed in their appropriate eternal dwelling places. This happened in the heavenly realm, not in some sky-splitting, earth-burning, universe-collapsing, de-creative event. From that point on there was no longer a waiting period for another resurrection and judgment. Now the righteous go immediately at physical death into the presence of God with our immortal bodies.

 

Two resurrections, Ed,  remember?  I am quoting Scripture for you, since you are sola scriptura.   Your insistence upon one resurrection will not wash with Scripture.  I would agree that there is a spiritual  resurrection, of which the Revelation says that we who are a part of that will not suffer eternal death.    But there must be a final resurrection which restores all things to the covenantal position which they were in before the fall.    If Adam had lived, eventually he would have been assumed WHOLELY,  BODY AND SOUL,   into the presence of his Father to continue his loving service to the Father.  God may well have made changes in the bodily structure of Adam upon assuming him,  but there is nothing which would make me think that Adam would have gone to Heaven like a caterpillar shedding a cocoon.  In fact, since we see that the Second Adam arose in body (albeit different in some senses -- I do agree with Ed on this),  we have every reason to draw the parallels and insist that Adam's shell,  while being changed, would nonetheless be a very integral part of his advancement into the heavenly realm.   Matter is good.  God uses matter to bless us.   When  He created this matter we live in and see all around us,   He called it "good",  not bad.   Therefore,  God has no hatred of our material bodies such that He would leave them behind.  Rather, they shall be raised and changed to join our souls on the last day of time and space.  This is the second resurrection,  of which it is said that all who have done good in their bodies shall receive of the good they have done and all who have done evil shall likewise be recompensed with cursing.

 

The Jews, the chiliasts, and the premillennialists today want to convince us that the resurrection event should usher in a physical paradise free from any kind of physical problems

 

Ah yes,  the ages old desire of man to return to the Garden.   But what we all fail to realize is that the Garden itself would have continued to be a place of testing.  If Adam banished the serpent by resistance, he would have grown in righteousness (the Scriptures talk about "the righteousness of faith") and then been tested again in some way that he could grow more,  with the goal of becoming Christ like.  The Garden would not have become the perfection of Heaven if the wicked one had been banished.  That was never the goal.  Theosis was, and still is for all God's adopted children.

 

Though we cannot see it with our physical eyes, in a spiritually real sense we have our eternal life now and are already dwelling in His presence

 

This is where Brother Ed's Calvinism is betrying him.   We do not have eternal life now.  We have an "earnest" of that inheritance which all of God's faithful covenantal children will be given.   But until one is judged of the works he has done (Rom. 2: 5-10) and it is determined that he has been a faithful covenant keeper,  all he has is a foretaste.  Brother Ed's assumption is that there is a certain class of people (the "elect") who have not only the foretaste of the inheritance, but the whole enchillada right now, and all that is needful is to die for them to be eternally secured.  This flies in the face of St. Paul's numerous warnings against apostasy and it breaks the covenantal paradigm.    The covenant doesn't end until we die, and then we are judged to see if we have been faithful in keeping the terms.  There is no such thing as an unconditional covenant regarding believers and their relationship to the Father.  The one and only unconditional covenant is the God/God covenant between Christ and the Father on behalf of the Church.  That one can never be broken,  which is why the Church can never be defeated by evil.

 

            GREAT COMMISSION AND THE LORD'S SUPPER

 

You will notice that I have skipped commentary on two chapters.   There are issues in these chapters which I have not sufficiently studied and am therefore unqualified to comment upon.   However,  Brother Ed does make a couple of comments in this chapter which seem to support my contention and which I must comment upon.

 

But the “Great” Commission (just like the “Great” Tribulation) was a special time of inspired apostolic activity that will never be duplicated. You don’t lay the foundation of an eternal house but once. The Holy Spirit worked in and through the apostles via the charismata to reveal and proclaim the gospel in order to build the church before that generation ended. They accomplished that mission. We are living proof that they fulfilled the Great Commission. If they had not accomplished it, the Gates of Hades would have devoured the Church before it was established. Their preaching bound Satan and plundered his stronghold and used the stones of his fortress to build up the kingdom. Christ has overcome. The kingdom is here. We no longer proclaim the good news that the kingdom is about to come. We now celebrate its arrival and share its healing leaves (the Word of God) with the nations. We are the light of the world. We should not hide our lamp under a peck measure. Evangelism goes on, but with a fulfilled victorious message about a Kingdom Now, not a Kingdom About To Come

 

If the Holy Spirit worked in and through the Apostles via charismata to reveal and proclaim the Gospel and build the Church,  then is Brother Ed saying that the Church is no more?   I have already used his own words against this idea, for in an earlier chapter he admits that the Church and the kingdom are interchangeable.  He admits to my earlier premise that the gates of hell and death did not devour the kingdom and the Early Church.  If this is true, which it is, then that which the Apostles came up with must have been transmitted as kingdom principles to the generation who followed the Apostles.

 

Polycarp the martyr was a disciple of St. John.  He learned from the lips of one who had sat at the feet of Christ.  Can you possibly imagine St. John misinforming Polycarp?   Can you imagine that which the reformers insist upon, that the Church was paganized by the end of the first century?  If so, this means that St. John passed on a pack of lies to Polycarp,  knowing that Polycarp would teach the same things to his disciples in turn.

 

Christ has overcome, the kingdom is here (which I totally agree with),  and yet Brother Ed cannot bring himself to the logical conclusion that the Catholic Church is the physical presence of the eternal kingdom on earth.   But there is no other conclusion one can come to.  Is the promise of Christ limited to the 40 year span between 30 and 70 AD?   Can you imagine saying that Satan is defeated, the gates of hell bound, and the kingdom established, and then tossing in one's towel with those who say, by implication, that the devil was then allowed to deceive the nations and take over the world through the "heresies" of the Catholic Church.  That isn't victory in my book, that is ignonymous defeat.  It is victory for one generation and then the total loss of the war from then on out, because the Gospel which St. Augustine and others took to the world, that Gospel which converted the world for 15 centuries was distinctly Catholic.  And according to Brother Ed's full preterism,  the Catholic Church was the bearers of the good news.  Does he realize that there was no other Gospel for 15 centuries until Luther's theological novums?

 

Brother Ed casts his lot with those who demonize the Catholic Church as the "whore of Babylon" (read the boys from Credenda Agenda,  Ligonier Ministries, and other reformed publications).  He claims that Christ is victorious, yet he breaks bread with those who claim, by theological implication, that Christ was a massive failure and his program is not succeeding, but failing with every Catholic who dies and goes to hell.    This is highly inconsistent.

 

The Lord's Supper has even more meaning and purpose now than it ever did. It is a feast in the kingdom at the table of the King, and the feast goes on continuously. Our observance of the Lord’s Supper is a visible covenant symbol of the continual communion we have with Him in His kingdom.

 

I would say indeed it has more meaning and purpose now than it ever did.  It is not just a "bare remembrance" of Christ's death and passion.   Brother Ed needs to think this through using his Passover Analogy.  We EAT the Lamb of God  Who IS our new Passover in the New Covenant.  And by doing such,  we are corporately united to the covenantal nation and our sins are passed over by the death angel.    The timeless sacrifice which John saw on Patmos is still in Heaven and brought down to earth every time the priest pronounces the epeklepsis over the elements.  The feast indeed goes on continually.  This is exactly the understanding and reason why the Mass is celebrated so frequently.   It is not only a visible covenantal symbol, it is Christ Himself "eating it with us" in the most intimat way possible.  He Who is the Bread of Life is now able to be with us in the most intimate way possible while we are in exile on this earth -- He enters us through the mouth and communes with us in deep intimacy as our flesh is united with His Flesh.

 

The Presbyterian supper has no intimacy like this.  It is a mere rememberance in which Christ is not present.  He is not on the altar,  He is not in the recipient.   For all we know,  He is just, well, somewhere watching.   But in the Mass,  Christ is very present on the altar.  We know that He is right there with us and desiring to share in the deepest intimacy possible.

 

Revelation 21 breaks from the final judgement we see in 20:15.   The attention is turned from a future judgement and the second death of which the evil will suffer, to return John's vision to the establishment of the New Covenant.  The old "heaven and earth" pass away and the new is put in place.  The Church is given as the Bride of Christ.

   Re 21:1 ¶ And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

   2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

  3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

 

The tabernacle is a place where sacrifice is made for sin and worship is conducted.   It is where God meets His people.  Yet this is in the New Jerusalem, the covenantal nation of the New Covenant.  Christ has died in AD33,  yet here we see a tabernacle.  Why?   Because Christ is the ever-present sacrifice throughout all eternity.   That is why our salvational covenant cannot fail like the first covenant did.  He is ever-present in the Church in so many aspects.    Being Lamb of God is just one of them,   yet that is the One that our Mass focuses upon, for as the Lamb of God, present on the altar in the Church as He is in Heaven the "Lamb slain before the foundation of the world"  He  meets with us in intimacy.

 

Re 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

 Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

 

Here is another indicator that this is the Church while on earth,   not the future perfect state of eternity.  Verse 7,  a continuation of describing the Bride of Christ and her state,  talks about those who will be faithful and will "inherit" (remember that arguement earlier in this paper?") all things,  and then talks about those who will practice evil and receive the just results of their wickedness.   That this could not be the eternal state is obvious by the presence of sinners and the promise to those who overcome.

 

Re 21:9 ¶ And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

 

According to Brother Ed's full preterism,  it was the Church came down to earth and is among us now as the Bride of Christ.   It is either that or the Church is still the whore of the revelation and we have yet to go through the events in the book of Revelation.  Make up your mind, please.  We can't have it both ways.  If Brother Ed is truely full preterist and believes that this part of  the book of Revelation has already happened, then he needs to return to that Church which was delivered to the earth after AD70 and which is the permanent kingdom of God on earth -- the Catholic Church.  There was no other church or assembly for 15 centuries, and I see no evidence that God put a 1500 year waiting period between Matt. 24 and Rev. 21.

  Re 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

 

Can Brother Ed see the restoration of the covenant in Genesis?   Adam and Eve were banned from the Tree of Life.  The Second Adam and His Eve, the Church, are reunited to the Tree of Life.   The tree of cursing, planted on the Hill of  the Skull outside Jerusalem,  has bloomed and bears the fruit which gives eternal life.  We are indeed returned to the Garden,  for just as Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life and so were able to continue to live as long as they could eat,  so now we have access to the Tree of Life and have access as long as we continue to eat its fruit.

 

Fruit hangs from trees.  And what hung from the Tree of Life itself but the Blessed Son of God.   It is for this reason that the Bread must  be the same Flesh which hung upon the Cross, which was indeed the very fruit of that tree of cursing, now made, by the resurrection,  the Tree of  Life.   And what fruit fell from the Tree of  Life but that same Blood which now we drink from the chalice.   I agree with Brother Ed that we are in the kingdom now,  the eternal kingdom which was the goal of God before the fall of Adam.   The Second Adam has restored us to the Garden in the sense of restoring the covenant in the Garden and making all in the Church partakers of  that restored covenant and the new Tree of Life, by which we shall live forever.

 

It was never God's intent that Adam and Eve should fail.  According to Calvinist theology,  God "set up" Adam and Eve for the fall for His glory.  This makes God the author of sin.   Don't argue with me.  If you set up a scenario so that it will take place, you are authoring what will happen.   Calvinists miss the bigger picture of what was to happen in the Garden, and because they miss it, they come up with this repulsive picture.

  It was the intention of the Garden that Adam and Eve,  created in innocency,  were to grow into righteousness.   There is only one way to grow righteousness according to Scripture.  We must exercise faith in God.  Every time we do, we grow in righteousness,  sanctification, and justification.   The ultimate goal of the Garden is seen in the NT verse which gives the goal for us as Christians:

 

Heb 2:10 ¶ For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

 

Have any of the Calvinists stopped to ask themselves what it meant that Jesus, the Son of God, needed to be made perfect?  Please stop and think upon that for a while.   The only  answer you can come to is to understand the full and complete manhood of Christ as the Second Adam.  As the fully human Messiah and Second Adam, He had to perform that which the first Adam failed to accomplish.   It was through the suffering of death,  done in faith in His Father, that Christ accomplished a perfect righteousness which Adam failed to accomplish.  The goal of the Garden was that Adam become righteous in this way and also bring his children to the same righteousness through the same testings of faith.  In every trial, as we have faith in God despite circumstances which seem overwhelming,  we grow in righteousness.

 

And now, as the Second Adam has restored the Tree of Life by making the tree of cursing He hung upon into that Tree which gives life to all who partake of its fruits, we once again are in the Garden covenantally.   We  come into the world innocent, just as Adam was created innocent.  We have not the capacity for sin till we can give mental assent to it.  As we grow, we are tested and tried that we might grow in righteousness by acts of faith in God.  And when we fail, we have access to the Tree of Life because we have a covenantal head who did not fail as the first covenantal head failed.    That is the important distinction.  Once Adam failed, the Tree of Life was blocked off to both Adam and Eve and their descendants until a new covenantal Head could come and re-establish the covenant.  Satan had stolen that headship from Adam and surplanted him as the head of the human race.   To have eaten of the Tree of  Life under that headship would have established the wicked one forever.   

 

Once Satan was dethroned from the headship he had stolen, the Church could be brought to mankind and the gates of the Garden re opened to reveal the Tree of Life with the fruit of eternal life hanging upon it.  We are again in the Garden,  which was intended to be an eternal state, a place of testing and growth of righteousness for Adam and his progeny, and we again walk through this place of testing towards our eternal home.  Our covenantal head, Christ Jesus,  stands ready to ever intercede for us as the corporate nation of believers, and offers us the Tree of  Life for our individual sins.

 

The Lord's Supper was meant to continue beyond AD 70

 

Of course.  It must be or we have no Tree of  Life for our sins against God.  In keeping with restoration of the covenant broken in the Garden,   we must be brought back to the Tree of  Life and to the  eternal kingdom again by the death of Christ.  We are in the Garden, despite the presence of technology and growth (one must wonder if Adam had not sinned if God then would have insisted he stay in a jungle paradise forever).  The real promised land of the kingdom is the Catholic Church in which the Tree of Life exists upon the altars of the kingdom.

   

THE CONCLUSION

  In the section dealing with the creeds and early church beliefs (points one through three), Gentry has painted himself very creedalistic. Yet, he teaches at least two different major “comings of the Son of Man” separated by thousands of years. This is not exactly “strict conformity” with the great creeds and confessions of the Christian faith. We pointed out that the creeds nowhere say anything about a “coming in judgment at AD 70” like Gentry believes. And neither do the great confessions of faith (i.e. Westminster, Belgic, Heidelberg, etc.). In fact, these confessions teach a Vatican and papal fulfillment of the Harlot and Beast. Gentry is out of sync with the creeds and confessions just like full preterists are. If he has freedom to differ, so do we.

  Once again Brother Ed confuses his authority figures.  The Westminster, Belgic, Heidelburg and other confessions were written by rebellious heretics who had left the Church,  an act expressed condemned by Scripture as a work of the flesh, not an act of faith:

   Ga 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,   20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

  So, Brother Ed,  please stop putting the writings of these men in the same class as the writings of the Church in council, which writings carry with them the binding authority given to the Church in Matthew 16:19.   Councicular decisions, by the force of the authority given the Church by Christ, are binding upon believers.   The Confessions are binding upon no one, despite the insistence of those who wrote them that they are.  There is a big difference.   Big difference.

  His section on “Creedal Failure” was well-named. The great ecumenical creeds did fail to understand the correct time and nature of fulfillment of the major eschatological events. The full preterist view has adequately shown that the creeds and confessions need reform in their “interpretations and applications” (not in their Biblical content).

  There is a BIG, a HUGE difference between misunderstanding the time and nature of the resurrection and DENYING IT ALTOGETHER.    The Church, as I have said earlier,   has declared under the promise of binding authority and divine guidance,  that there will be a final, physical resurrection.   That Ed Stevens does not agree with this places him, not us, in the very bad position of going against the divinely ordained authority upon earth -- the Church.

  We have shown that there is a definite difference between “creedal orthodoxy” and “Biblical orthodoxy,” and that only Scripture can determine true orthodoxy.

  Only the Bible?  ONLY?  Sorry, Ed, but you are dead wrong there, and the proliferation of   thousands  of Protestant cults, sects, denominations, and isms in the world,  all trusting "the Bible alone and in its entireity"(as one Dutch Reformed Calvinist who predicted the September 1992 return of Christ likes to insist)  for their "orthodoxy" shows how wrong you are.   Without a divinely ordained interpretor of Scripture, acting under the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit,  THIS CHAOS is exactly what you get.  Why can't you see that? 

  Gentry seems to posit far more authority to the creeds than either the Bible or the Reformers.

  Fine.  YOU show me, from the BIBLE ALONE,  since that is the rules of your game,  where the Reformers had the authority to leave the Church and rend the Body of Christ into thousands of pieces over the centuries.    The fact is that the Reformers have NO AUTHORITY whatsoever, either to schismate from the Body of Christ, no matter how corrupt it had become, nor to invent new doctrines which denied 15 centuries of Church teaching which dated back to the Apostles and the "depostium fidei".

  The Creeds are authorative because they were developed from Scripture and Holy Tradition practiced by the Church.  They are authorative because without the Creeds,  we have the Protestant Rebellion, as every man takes the Scriptures and wrests with them,  many to their own destruction.

  Now that there has arisen a conflict between the Biblical imminency statements and the creedal interpretations of a postponement, we must decide where to stand. Full preterists safeguard Biblical inerrancy, even though it contradicts the interpretations and applications of uninspired men (in the creeds).

  That's YOUR point of view as you insist upon "full preterism".    The fact of the matter is that the Catholic Church has in it allowance for the preterist position and it is held by a number of theologians in that Church.  Biblical inerrancy is not endangered by partial preterism,  but interpretive inerrancy belongs to NO ONE but the Church.  NO ONE!! 

  You show me your pedigree from Christ granting infallibility to you and your interpretations, Brother Ed.  Where is it?    You don't have it, but the Church founded upon St. Peter sure does, and right from the Savior's mouth in promise.  He said that the gates of hell would NOT  prevail against the Church.  What about that do you not understand?  He promised to The Twelve that they would be led into all truth and that they would be shown things to come.   

  Look at the promise:

  Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

 

These truths were given to The Twelve as the deposit of faith.  It is not without coincidence that the epistolary revelations of truth ceased with the death of the last Apostle.  The truth was delivered, once and for all to these 12 men alone.  It was passed on from generation to generation.  I am sure that St. Polycarp sat at the feet of St. John, his teacher, and asked him numerous questions about the Savior and the teachings of the faith.   Then Polycarp passed these truths on faithfully to the next generation.   These men guarded these truths and often paid for them with their lives.  And the next generation did the same.

  And it was these Holy Traditions, passed down through the centuries,  which were part and parcel of determining truth when the great councils met to establish official and binding Church teaching.

  His questions about the resurrection (points five through eight) seem to make it the heart of the controversy

  You bet they do!!  Without the resurrection of the body, the very same flesh which we walked this earth in,  the redemptive work is incomplete and the Incarnation itself is denied.  The Incarnation was necessary for this very reason, the redemption of all that Adam had destroyed in the Fall,  including the ultimate dissolution of the flesh.

  Regardless of what the resurrection is, it had to have been an AD 70 event since it is connected with the return of Christ in several contexts of imminency. According to Gentry’s own hermeneutics, the imminency factor has to be taken seriously in determining when a passage was to be fulfilled. But, he has ignored this imminency factor when it comes to the resurrection.

  have no arguement with the first statement.  Indeed, the resurrection HAD TO begin in AD70, since Christ was returning from His heavenly Yom Kippor to make the final application of His work and establish permanently the New Covenant in His Blood.  That is not a problem.  What is a problem is that Brother Ed seems unwilling to see that the resurrection takes place in two parts according to Rev. 20.  There is a first, and by extension, a second and final resurrection, at which time the physical world will be restored completely and we shall be joined to our bodies.  No matter what has been done to the corpus,  the omnipotent God will find every atom and restore to us that which we have lived with,  glorify or damn it, depending upon which class of people we are judged into, and the eternal state shall begin.  Anything less than this is HERESY.  I cannot put it any other way.

 

In fact,  a thought just occurred to me.  It is the first resurrection which is associated with the coming of our Lord.  The passage in revelation says nothing regarding how the second resurrection will take place, and certainly leaves us open to say that there is indeed only one parousia and corresponding resurrection in AD70.  We do no damage to the connectedness of these events by insisting upon the fact of the second resurrection of revelation.  The passages in John 5 simply say that the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and come forth from the graves.  There is absolutely nothing  in those passages which demands another "cloud coming" of the Lord.  We are left, beyond that,  to speculation as to how the final resurrection will happen.

  Brother Ed makes some wonderful points about theology and eschatology being connected in his last couple of paragraphs,  but he is unwilling to take that to its logical end.  Man is a tripartite being.   When someone sees my body, they say  "That's Ed Hara"  When they hear my voice, they also say "That's Ed Hara".  And when God looks upon my soul,  He says "That's Ed Hara"   Do not try to separate man the way that the Jehovah's Witnesses try to separate the persons of the Trinity.  I am not merely spirit.  I am body, soul, and spirit.  You want Scripture for that?

1Th 5:23 ¶ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let's see how scripturally consistent Brother Ed remains in the face of this verse.   I believe in a whole salvation for that which makes up the whole man which God created.

Brother Ed's final closing statement is a plea from RC Sproul which falls on deaf ears to me for its rankling hypocrisy.

“...skeptical criticism of the Bible has become almost universal in the world. And people have attacked the credibility of Jesus. Maybe some church fathers made a mistake. Maybe our favorite theologians have made mistakes. I can abide with that. I can’t abide with Jesus being a false prophet, because if I am to understand that Jesus is a false prophet, my faith is in vain.” [R. C. Sproul, Sr. at the 1993 Covenant Eschatology Symposium in Mt. Dora, Florida]

The fact of the matter is that RC Sproul, and all Calvinists, for that matter,   have made Christ into a false prophet.    As I have many times said (but it bears repeating till the ears are opened and the eyes see) Christ prophesied the giving of all truth to The Twelve, the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit to the Church,   and the authority of God being given to the Church in binding and loosing upon earth and the holding of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.  The wording in Scripture is clear, so clear, in fact, that we see the Early Fathers developing the office of the Papacy and the authority of Rome from the second century onward.  Yet Protestants take these verses and deny that they mean what they say,  thus making Christ the false prophet they claim to not want to follow.  They substitute their own theological inventions, including much of Luther's tortured and twisted theology,  which the Church had not known for 15 centuries.  Let me turn the tables on Brother Ed,  for since the Church is a divinely authorized institution, I think that this passage of Scripture applies all too well to Protestantism:

Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. ...You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. ...thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that. [Mark 7:8-13]

  Ed Hara

 

What do YOU think ?

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  Date: 21 Nov 2006
Time: 14:07:40

Comments:

I think that this letter strengthens the position of both Gentry's Reformed view and his Partial Preterist view. Stevens and Hara do an excellent job refuting their own positions by criticizing eachother. It saves Gentry et al a lot of work.
John, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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