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Olan Hicks’ Final Negative: Formal Written Debate on the Coming of the Lord

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Olan Hicks – Fourth negative

With this installment we reach the half way point in our debate. I think it is understandable that Don is a bit frustrated.  If you open your eyes and look at what he is trying to lay on us you will see why. He is trying to prove that Jesus returned nearly 2,000 years ago but no one has seen Him, that the resurrection occurred in AD70 but no one came out of the grave, that God’s judgment occurred at that time but the sheep were not divided from the goats, and that heaven and earth passed away but they are still here. If you can swallow that you would probably be willing to buy some ocean front property in Kansas, or maybe a bridge in Brooklyn.

I went into the Old Testament and read again all those passages he cited, Isaiah chapters 2-4, chapter 24, chapter 27-29, chapter 59, Daniel 12, Deut. 27:18  etc. What they all contain, in substance, is the prophet saying to Israel, “God’s gonna git you fer that!” But our disagreement is not about that. Our disagreement is about whether that occasion of God’s vengeance on Israel was the occasion of the second and final coming of Christ, along with the resurrection and the judgment etc. Don is trying to string those passages together to make them say that and they simply do not say it. It reminds me of the guy who quoted the passage, “Judas went out and hanged himself, and then the passage where Jesus said, “Go and do thou likewise,” and then where Jesus said, “What thou doest do quickly,” and thought he had proved that we must hang ourselves quickly.

As far as “rules” are concerned the negative in a debate is required only to disprove the position of the affirmative. He is not required to do that by the process of Aristotelian philosophy. He is not required to fully analyze each passage cited, only to show that they do not say what is claimed for them. The passages Don offers say that vengeance was predicted for Jerusalem, and we do not disagree on that. He deduces that they predict the second coming of Christ. We do disagree on this. Proof that the deduction is wrong is the fact that explicit Bible statements contradict it. I cited those. Don calls that the worst negative presentation he has ever seen. He calls it evasion, obfuscation, and “red herrings.” Well, every argument I presented was established in explicit words of Jesus and the apostles. This shows us what Don thinks of their words. This is not an idle accusation. I invite the reader to go back and check it out for yourself.

We will each answer to God for how we handle God’s word. As for me, I will not abandon my practice of basing conclusions on explicit Bible statements and turn to philosophizing and mud wrestling about possible interpretations of prophecies. Don can do that if he wants to. But I believe that most of our readers want to know what the Bible says clearly, not theories and speculations about the events in our proposition, the second coming, the resurrection, the judgment, and the end of the world, especially how Jesus and the apostles understood them. For those who respect that I have much clarifying information to give you from that source. I will first finish my review what we have discussed so far and set the whole matter in perspective so we understand clearly.

Then Don turns to the William Miller episode and says, “Olan doesn’t seem to know the difference between predicting a future event and looking back at fulfillment.” He says it is embarrassing. Well, what he says about it should be embarrassing. It demonstrates again that his “logic” is not sound. He is not looking back at fulfillment. He is looking back at the same thing the Millerites looked at, the fact that Jesus did not appear at the time he calculated that He would. He says those cases of failed predictions are irrelevant to our debate. Isn’t that remarkable?. They are relevant because those date setters used the same procedure Don is using, interpretation of prophecies, the same prophecies in fact, to reach their conclusions. He said Miller was speculating and he is “honoring Jesus’ emphatic statements that He was coming back in the first century,” that Miller divorced those time statements from Jesus’ generation and applied them to His. Again, unrealistic thinking. Don admitted that Jesus did not come back in person in AD70, that it was a symbolic coming in vengeance on Jerusalem. It was in regard to that symbolic coming that He said, “They will see the sign of the Son of man” and “will see the Son of man coming in the clouds with power and great glory.” (Mat. 24:30) What Jesus did emphatically declare was that they would “see Jerusalem surrounded by armies.” (Luke 21:20)

The proof of the pudding: It is one thing to claim that you are saying what the Bible says and quite another to produce passages that actually say it. When your calculations produce a conclusion that contradicts explicit Bible statements, your conclusion is not correct. The answer to each of Don’s arguments is still the same, his conclusions contradict express Bible statements. I invite the reader to look over Don’s affirmatives and notice that every scripture reference he gives on a point requires a huge amount of rationalizing to get that out of it.

Ignatius and Polycarp.
Then Don turned to my reference to these two men and said, “I did not realize they were a part of the Bible.” He said what they believed is irrelevant. How clever, but again, not logical. These men lived in Judea in AD70, the spot in time we are discussing. They were eye witnesses to the event we are discussing. Both are said to have been disciples of John. Of course what they thought about it is relevant. Did John tell them they were supposed to interpret that event as the second coming? If so, why did they not see it that way? Again we see that Don is not glad to have facts introduced into our thinking. He wants his fantasy to have center stage. He wants to over rule the testimony of Jesus and the apostles, and even eye witnesses, with his prophetic interpretations.

God’s schedule cannot be altered. Don has been affirming that at the time of the military assault on Jerusalem in AD70 the second coming of Christ occurred, along with the resurrection, end of the age, and the judgment. I believe he does not realize what that would amount to. My argument against that idea has been that it changes the whole picture as it is given in the specifications of scripture. It contradicts both the Biblical description of each occurrence, His coming and the Jerusalem event, and also contradicts the timing, the order of their happening as the Bible prescribes it. As we have said before, the Bible states that God had His plan in mind before the world was created. (Eph. 3:9-11) Each part of it had to happen at its appointed time. The AD70 theory attempts to completely rearrange that schedule. Surely they must not realize that when they rearrange the schedule they completely revise the plan and make it something totally different than what Jesus and the apostles taught.

The principle illustrated: In baseball the world series is a seven game series, or until one team wins four games. You can’t play game 6 before you play the first five games. You have to start with game one. In human life the same principle is true. Each of us starts as a child. We cannot begin life as an elderly person and live the senior years first. We have to start out as an infant and grow according to schedule. The same is true of God’s appointed schedule, in the spiritual world as well as the natural world. So Paul told the Thessalonians, who were being told that the day of Christ had already come, that it would not come until its correct place in the schedule came along. “That day will not come unless the falling away comes first.” (2 Thess. 2:3)

God had the schedule in mind before the world began. For instance, the personal coming of Christ was not a random visit, which could as well happen at one time as another. It was scheduled as part of an intricate plan and had to happen exactly at the time God appointed. “When the fulness of the time had come God sent forth His Son.” (Gal. 4:4) Christ did not come before John the Baptist. The forerunner had to come before the one whose way he would prepare. Jesus did not come at the Mt. Sianai occurrence. He was not yet due to become the law giver. He came when God’s appointed time for it was fulfilled. Even the world wide resurrection is not a random event. The timing of each person’s resurrection is a part of God’s schedule. In 1 Cor. 15:22-24 Paul said that we shall all “be made alive, but every man in his own order, Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming, and then comes the end.” Everything God has appointed is according to His schedule. The AD70 theory scrambles them completely out of the Biblical order, at least they try to, and in so doing change the whole picture of God’s plan. In my affirmative material I will lay out that plan more fully.

The revisions they try to make in the schedule: God appointed Jesus to reign as “head over all things to the church” until the end when the last enemy, death, is destroyed and Christ will deliver the kingdom back to God. But the AD70 people place the second coming of Christ, which would be the end of His reign, back in the first century, when the church had just barely begun. The Bible says that at the return He will hand back the kingdom to God, not assume the headship of it. (1 Cor. 15:24) God appointed that all the dead will be raised at the end of the world. But they place the resurrection in the past, before the dead people are ever raised. They place the judgment as having occurred before most of the earth’s population were even born. They see the passing away of the heavens and the earth as being more like its beginning, in that after that occurrence, earth’s passing away, all the continents are populated with the largest number of people in the world’s history. Their “calendar” has everything completely out of order from the way God’s calendar has it. The result is utter confusion.

Don is not anxious to answer any questions but he is ready to ask many. He asks, “Olan, how many comings of the Lord, at the end of the millennium resurrection and destruction of Satan, when the martyrs would be avenged, are there in scripture?” In Revelation 20 Jesus does not come at the end of the thousand years. He is there when it begins. The avenging of the blood of martyrs is said to have occurred many times in the Bible. But Don, there is a question you need to answer here. If Satan is destroyed at Christ’s coming, and you say this happened in AD70, does that mean you say that Satan was destroyed in AD70? Is Satan not with us now?

Don refers often to comings at the “end of the millennium resurrection.” As I just said, Revelation 20 speaks of the millennium, or thousand years reign, at the end of which the dead are raised and the judgment sits. But Jesus does not come at the end of the thousand years. He is there at the beginning of it. The bottom line is this is not what happened in AD70. Whatever it might be that he wants to prove from this, our debate is not about whether a “coming” in a symbolic sense occurred in AD70 and also a judgment on Israel. Our debate is about whether that was what the Bible calls the “second coming,” the final one that will ever be. Don affirmed in his proposition that it was and he was supposed to prove it. But all he did was scramble the timing of these events.

Don says that Isaiah 2-4 and 25-27 posited the avenging in the last days Day of the Lord. As I said, I read those chapters. There is nothing in them at all about the Day of the Lord. Then he said, (Remember, the end of the millennium resurrection is undeniably the salvation of Israel–after the flesh– Isaiah 25:8-9)” Isn’t that remarkable? Now he even scrambles the time of the reign of Christ. He has Him reigning over fleshly Israel.

Then he asks, Olan, what coming of the Lord, for the salvation of Israel, was Paul anticipating in Romans 11:25-27– in fulfillment of Isaiah 27 / 59? He added as usual, “Don’t fail to answer this question!? Well, it is answered in the same Roman letter at chapter 2:28-29. “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter.” Thus Jesus came to save spiritual Israel, not fleshly Israel. In the same letter Paul said that God put no difference between the Jew and the Gentile, that all must come to Him the same way, through Christ and the New Testament Gospel. (10:12) But Don insists absolutely that salvation is in “Israel after the flesh.” This is a really mixed up guy.

Don reissues his lame argument about Matthew 5:17, that none of the “Torah” can pass away until everything it speaks of has occurred. If that is so then it is still in effect because it speaks of the ending of the heavens and the earth. “You laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish but you will endure. Yes, they will grow old like a garment. Like a cloak You will change them and they will be changed. (Ps. 102:25-26) This demonstrates again that Don is just not real devoted to reading the word exactly as it is. What Jesus said was, “Not one jot or one title shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled.” He went ahead and applied it to say that they were living under the law at that time and therefore must obey it. Every law is in effect until it fulfills its assigned purpose. But God did not leave it to AD70 theologians to calculate when that time would be. He Himself declared it. “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached and everyone presses into it.” (Luke 16:16)

1 Peter 4: Don argues that Daniel was told to seal up the vision because the time was far off and John was told not to seal his vision because the time was close at hand. How does he know that was the reason? The text doesn’t say it. He knows it the same way he knows many other things, assumption and rationalizing.

More foolishness: Don argues that one can “know the generation of an event without knowing the day or the hour.” He is trying to argue a technicality. Actually they do claim to know the day and hour. They say it was when the Romans attacked Jerusalem in AD70. This whole idea is senseless. It is the same argument the Seventh Day Adventists have been offering for many years. The expression “day or hour” is simply the way the people of that time spoke of “the time.” Jesus said no one knows the time of His coming. He said further, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Mat. 24:44) This is the truth of the matter as Jesus said it. No one on earth can know the time of His second coming.

He makes an argument about 2 Thessalonians 2 and, as usual, says “Did you catch the power of that?” and “Don’t fail to answer this.” It seems Don wants to write my essays for me. He tries to direct them. The question he asks is, How could anyone convince anyone that an event had happened if it consisted of what I said it does. Here is an exact quotation of what he said. ” Olan believes that the Second Coming and the Resurrection is an earth-burning, time ending event, in which every human that has ever died and decomposed is re-constituted, restored and raised out of the dirt.” Don does not believe in the resurrection at all. He rejects the explicit statements Peter gave about it. It was the apostle Peter who said what it will consist of. “The heavens will pass away with a great noise, the elements melting with fervent heat, and the earth and the works in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10) It is referred to as “His coming” at verse 4 and as “The day of the Lord” at verse 10. Don has an awful lot of speculative theories but he doesn’t seem to have much use for explicit Bible statements.

More theological fallacies. Then he argues some kind of an idea about Malachi and Joel that is a bit vague. He first suggests this, “The Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, not before Jesus’ Incarnation. Therefore, the Day of the Lord foretold by Joel and Malachi was not Jesus’ Incarnation, and it was not Pentecost.” He asks the question, “Olan, did Joel and Malachi predict two different Great and Terrible Days of the Lord? If you say Yes, then produce the textual proof.” Here is another example of having a specific statement of scripture on a matter and rejecting that and trying to impose a human theory instead.

I will simply go with the statement of the apostle Peter on Pentecost day, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” (Acts 2:16) So we can say with certainty that Don’s conclusion that “the Day of the Lord foretold by Joel and Malachi was not Jesus’ Incarnation, and it was not Pentecost” is incorrect. That conclusion is wrong because it contradicts the explicit statement of an inspired apostle. It could be possible that the “day of the Lord” is a period of time longer than one 24 hour day.

In his “summary” Don wants to declare himself the winner in this debate. He wrote,
“I have examined the motif of the vindication of the martyrs and its direct, inseparable connection to the resurrection of the dead. I have produced text after text that posits the vindication of the martyrs, the resurrection and Day of the Lord at the judgment of Old Covenant Israel. I have proven that Paul’s eschatology was nothing but the hope of Israel, and therefore, until the OT promises of the end of the age and resurrection were fulfilled, the entirety of the Law of Moses would remain valid. I have shown from the NT, from Paul and Peter and Revelation, that the Second Coming and resurrection– the judgment of the living and the dead– was at hand, and coming soon (in a very, very little while” (Hebrews 10:37). I have shown that Paul, writing to the Thessalonians being persecuted by the Jews, promised them relief from that then on-going persecution “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.” Paul was not writing to, or about, a far distant future church, or unknown persecutors. He was writing to first century Christians, and about “those who are troubling you.” Olan denies these explicit statements. I asked Olan numerous questions that he refuses to answer. I have shown that despite his claims, Olan categorically rejects the explicit, express words of scripture. I have fully proven my proposition that the Second Coming and the Resurrection occurred at the end of the Old Covenant Age in AD 70.”

If you can believe that you probably would be willing to buy some ocean front property in Kansas. Notice that every one of these points is theoretical. What he refers to as “express words of scripture” are about things we do not disagree on, like a symbollic “coming” in vengeance on Israel and that God does avenge His people. But placing the second coming in AD70 is another matter. He has no scriptures which say that. He misuses the scriptures and reasons unreasonably. For example, one of the things he claims above is that he has proven that Paul’s eschatology was nothing but the hope of Israel. As I have shown before, the passage he quotes for that simply has Paul saying that he did not say anything that contradicted Israel’s belief in a resurrection. He never said that he had no hope for the future except in Israel’s hope in the flesh. All of these claims are in the same category, subterfuge. Don just does not accept the answers given in the Bible about the matter of the second coming, the resurrection, and the judgment. He deals entirely in theorizing which ends up contradicting Bible statements.

Four reasons why I want to persuade people to reject the AD70 speculation:
(1) Those who do not accept the words of Jesus, He said, will be judged by those very words. (John 12:48)
(2) There is only one hope and salvation depends on not being moved away from it. (Col. 1:23)
(3) In the final day we will be judged by the things written in the books. (Rev. 20:12) Those who deny what is written in those books are not ready for the judgment.
(4) Paul said false doctrines about the resurrection being already past will spread like a cancer. (2 Tim. 2:17-18)
I am not willing to gamble with men’s souls. Therefore every one of these four reasons is important to me.

In the first half of this debate we have discussed a theory that is way out in left field, speculation gone amuck. The statement of Jesus that at the resurrection ALL the dead will be raised is denied, as is the statement of the angels that He will be seen returning just as they saw Him ascend into heaven, and the statement of Paul that “The Lord Himself” will descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the arc angel. How could anyone decide to go with a theory that says all of these passages do not mean what they say? The word “resurrection” means to be raised from the dead. The word “saw” means that something was visible. The phrase “The Lord Himself” means that He is there in person. So we actually have to choose between human speculation and divine revelation. The only way any of us have to know the mind of God on any matter is by what He has said about it in His word. If we decide that His word does not mean what it says, then we are without a source of information about the most important matters we will ever have to study about.

Now let’s go in another direction, the direction of taking what God said for the answer to every question.
I get no pleasure from telling anyone that they are wrong. But I would not be a true friend if I did not speak out on the errors of the AD70 theory when so much is at stake. As I said at the beginning of this debate, if we learn we have been wrong about something, that is not a defeat, it is a victory because now we can correct it. It is not a matter of opinions against other opinions. It is a matter of clearly stated words from God being negated by human theory. I believe the Bible means what it says and says what it means.

As we now enter the part of the debate where I am in the affirmative I would remind us of the principle I have contended for from the beginning, that clear Bible statements are the only source from which we can get information about the things of God. The same procedure I asked Don to observe in his affirmatives now applies to me in my affirmatives. On every point either the Bible says it or it doesn’t.

Remembering that God said “My ways are not your ways and your thoughts are not my thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8) let’s do what Peter said we must, “If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God.” (1 Peter 4:11) The Israelites in Canaan were led astray by prophets of whom God said, “They speak a vision of their own heart” (Jeremiah 23:16) and “If they had caused my people to hear my words, then they would have turned them from their evil ways.” (verse 22)

Now I ask you to read my first affirmative with Bible in hand, closely comparing everything I say with the Biblical statements on each point. All so called “Christians” say they go by the Bible. But you are responsible for making sure about who really is speaking the truth. Checking with the Bible is the way to do that. I have no other source of information about spiritual things. I am not infallible but I believe that God is and that His word is infallible. If clear Bible statements do not convince you, I have nothing else to offer.

The way of God is beautiful, in terms of how to live in this life and in terms of the destiny God has planned for His people. But it has always been perverted by confused men and the Bible warns often about “false prophets.” May God bless you with wisdom as you consider His word in regard to the questions being raised here.

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