In July, 2012, I debated Joel McDurmon of American Vision, in Powder Springs, Georgia. During the debate, the issue of Zion, the locus of eschatological consummation in prophecy, was a huge issue of discussion. I produced quotes from McDurmon in which he affirmed the spiritual fulfillment of the Zion promises. The debate was put into book form available here.
In that book, McDurmon and I each wrote an addendum, called “After Thoughts,” in which we summarized our arguments and reviewed what was said. Lamentably, instead of taking careful note of exegetical arguments (with a few exceptions) McDurmon focused on impugning my integrity. McDurmon repeatedly used terms like “cheating”, “alleged quotations by me”, “it would have been more helpful, not to mention more honest, if he would have told the whole truth” etc., etc.”
McDurmon charges me with dishonesty and a lack of integrity. But, let’s examine his charge and see how egregiously I “misrepresented” Joel McDurmon.
Here is what I said during the debate concerning Joel and Zion: “Joel says the Zion promises have been spiritualized and fulfilled in Christ.” (This quote was cut and pasted directly from the debate MSS).
Now, here is the verbatim quote from Joel’s book: “Zion has been ‘spiritualized,’ if you will, and revealed to be fulfilled in the person of the ascended Christ: ‘But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the innumerable angels in festal gathering…” (Jesus V Jerusalem, 178. This book is available from me, and is, in many ways, excellent. In fact, as many have commented, you will wonder how anyone can write the things in the book, and not be a full preterist!).
Okay, I omitted the words “if you will” and “revealed to be fulfilled” in the person of the ascended Christ.”
The real question is, did my shortened quote actually misrepresent Joel? This is really the key.
Did McDurmon say Zion has been spiritualized? Undeniably.
Did he say the Zion promises are fulfilled in Christ? Yes.
Does he claim to believe Zion is fulfilled now, in Christ and the church? Yes.
If Zion has been “revealed to be fulfilled” then has it not been fulfilled?
Does the statement that he believes the Zion promises are fulfilled in Christ alter the meaning of “revealed to be fulfilled”? Patently not.
So, from a strictly semantic perspective, I did not give the precise word quote. However, the citation I gave did not materially alter, modify or in any way change the meaning of what McDurmon said! And of course, this is what is important.
Here is something else to consider. In a private email to me, in which he accused me of misrepresentation, here is what McDurmon said:
“In your article on me you say I believe all the prophecies of Zion have been “spiritualized and fulfilled in Christ. I cannot find this direct quotation in anything I’ve written. There is a close parallel in J v J p. 178, but not this quotation. Can you supply the source? If not, you should consider revising the quotation marks so as not to bear false witness.”
So, McDurmon accused me of bearing false witness when I said he believes the Zion promises have been spiritualized and fulfilled in Christ.
I responded to his accusation (email of 2-8-13):
“The source is page 178.
“Zion has been “spiritualized, if you will, and revealed to be fulfilled in the person of the ascended Christ: ‘But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the innumerable angels in festal gathering…” (JvJ, 178).
If Zion has been spiritualized and fulfilled, then the prophecies of Zion were spiritualized and fulfilled—especially in the context of your discussion in that chapter.
You said Zion had been “spiritualized” and “fulfilled in Christ.” I fail to see anything remotely resembling false witness.”
Joel then responded (email of 2-8-13): “It’s simple. “Spiritualized and fulfilled in Christ” is not the same as “spiritualized” and “fulfilled in Christ” or “spiritualized . . . and fulfilled in Christ.” What you’ve done is paraphrase and then attribute it as a quotation. I am not sending this to you in confrontation or even to say that I disagree with your interpretation of it, but merely because it’s bad practice. Secondarily, it’s misleading to anyone trying to track it down.”
So, please note that McDurmon says he did not necessarily disagree with my interpretation of his words, even though the wording of my “quotation” was not as precise as he preferred. This demonstrates that I did not misrepresent Joel’s views after all, even though in his Addendum of the debate book, as we have seen, he repeatedly charged me with dishonesty and misrepresentation of what he said!
So, on the one hand, Preston (supposedly) misrepresented McDurmon, but, on the other hand McDurmon was not saying, “that I disagree with your interpretation of it.” But there is more, and as you will see, it gets worse for McDurmon’s charge that I misrepresented him. Stay tuned!