This is the fifth installment of an examination of the claim made by Joel McDurmon that in our formal debate, held July 2012 in Ardmore, Ok., that I misrepresented his beliefs and falsely and misleadingly quoted him. Be sure to begin with the first article and read the entire series. It is important that you know all of the fact. #2, #3, #4.
As an introduction to this article you need to know that McDurmon and postmillennialists as a whole reject what they call the Two Kingdom Doctrine.
Many in the Dominionist camp believe the Two Kingdom Doctrine is heretical. And yet, catch the power of this! Joel is, in reality, arguing for at least a modified form of a Two Kingdom doctrine, which he says in the article cited above, is unbiblical and false! McDurmon has a present spiritual kingdom, a done deal, so to speak. But, the spiritual kingdom is not the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. During our debate he argued repeatedly that Abraham must inherit dirt, an earthly, physical kingdom! Zion came– past tense– in the ascended Christ. It came in AD 70, but, it will yet come! What we have now, is not what will be, per McDurmon. What we have now is spiritual. What we are waiting for is physical!
In our debate, McDurmon argued desperately that “you have come to Mt. Zion” must be viewed as a completed, fulfilled reality. But, per McDurmon, we are still looking for the “real” Zion, which will come down out of heaven.
Let me briefly examine another claim by McDurmon at this juncture. In the book of the debate, McDurmon claims: “I noted that this “spiritualized” promise was fulfilled in the ascension of Christ—not in His AD 70 judgment! Don not only totally ignored this part, he misled the audience in suggesting it could be applied to AD 70.”
Well, let’s see if I “misled the audience” when I suggested that Joel believes that the arrival of Zion “could be applied to AD 70.”
In the article quoted earlier, on the Dome of the Rock, McDurmon said (in the comments section): “New Jerusalem is already here, it is Jesus Christ Himself and His body the Church (Heb. 12:22ff).” Well, in Hebrews 11-12 they had not fully received the kingdom (i.e. Zion) for they were “receiving the kingdom that cannot be shaken” (12:28) and they were still awaiting the city that was “about to come” (13:14). So, Zion had not yet fully arrived!
McDurmon’s admission that the New Jerusalem came down from God out of heaven falsifies his claim that Zion came at Jesus’ ascension, does it not? After all, in Revelation 21 the New Jerusalem would and did come down from God only after the destruction of the old Zion– in AD 70! And as I noted in the debate, McDurmon posits the fulfillment of Revelation 21, not at Jesus’ ascension, but at AD 70!
Notice what he argued in the debate:
“Yeah, of course, there’s a spiritual version of this in heaven; it’s the pattern. But as I told you once and it was not controverted; in Revelation 22 that city comes down out of heaven and to the earth.”
But wait! In an article on the AV site, McDurmon says the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22 is the church of the Lord and came in AD 70. Commenting on Revelation 21 and the New Creation, McDurmon said this:
“This passage is describing among other things the results of an historical event: namely, the passing away of the Old Covenant “heavens and earth” and the arrival of the New Covenant “new heavens and new earth.” The New Heavens and New Earth complex is also called New Jerusalem, which is the bride-city-dwelling place of God, or “the church” as we commonly say.
The passing away here refers to the passing away of the Old Covenant order. It is passed away for good never to return, and has been replaced by the New Covenant order. This replacement “event” began with the Incarnation of Christ, and culminated with his Ascension and Session at the right hand of God. The final expression of the demise of that old order was the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70.”
Could words be any clearer? Now, even the best of men can be and often are, inconsistent. All of us are guilty at one time or another. However, for McDurmon to boldly claim that: “I noted that this “spiritualized” promise was fulfilled in the ascension of Christ—not in His AD 70 judgment! Don not only totally ignored this part, he misled the audience in suggesting it could be applied to AD 70” is simply specious, and simply false.
I did not ignore anything, and I did not mislead anyone in claiming that McDurmon posited the arrival of the New Jerusalem / Zion in AD 70. He undeniably said it himself. This is just another example of Joel falsely charging me with misrepresenting him.
Significantly, commenting on Matthew 8:11, McDurmon says the Messianic Banquet, which according to Isaiah 25:6f would occur at the resurrection on Zion, was fulfilled in AD 70! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were to sit down in the kingdom when the sons of the kingdom were cast out. Joel applies Matthew 8:11 to AD 70 (Jesus v Jerusalem, p. 64). This book actually contains some great commentary. Once again, his claim that the New Jerusalem (Zion) came at the ascension is falsified by his own keyboard.
So, McDurmon has made another false charge of misrepresentation against me. He says I was wrong to say he believed that Zion arrived in AD 70. Yet, his very clear and undeniable application of Matthew 8 and Revelation 21 falsifies his denials and his claim that I misrepresented him. Zion did come in AD 70, per Joel McDurmon! It is not Preston, therefore, that has “misled” people as to McDurmon’s view on Zion.
As just seen, McDurmon argues that the present spiritual Zion came down from heaven in AD 70. There is no way, textually, to make the arrival of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 as fulfilled at Jesus’ ascension. Such a posit is utterly unwarranted! Ask yourself: If, as McDurmon believes, Zion came down in AD 70, how, exactly, is it to come down, again, at the end of the Christian age? Isn’t it already here? He clearly claims that it is: “New Jerusalem is already here, it is Jesus Christ Himself and His body the Church (Heb. 12:22ff).”
And of course, we have the right to ask: Where is the scriptural proof that Zion must yet come, again?
If Zion is Christ and the church, as McDurmon affirms, and if Zion came in AD 70, but we are still waiting for Zion, then we have only a few choices:
1.) The future Zion is a different Zion from that which came in AD 70. If this is the case, McDurmon is undeniably positing a Two Kingdom theology.
2.) The future Zion is the completed, consummated Zion. In other words, we are in the “already-but-not-yet” aspect or phase of Zion. But, if this is true, we don’t need for Zion to come down from God out of heaven– remember, it is already here, per McDurmon. The Zion that is here simply needs to come to perfection. But there is an insurmountable problem with this.
This position flies in the face of the imminence of the consummation in the NT. The foundations of that Temple / City had already been laid prior to AD 70– let’s say, for argument sake only– in the ascended Christ– but, they were waiting for the dedication of the completed and perfected Temple / City. (See my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings, for an in- depth study of Christ’s parousia of the time of the “dedication” of the completed New Covenant Temple). That perfected city was “about to come” (Hebrews 13:14). The arrival of “the perfect man” was imminent in the first century; it was not something protracted into the distant future.
While McDurmon affirms a yet future fulfillment of Zion, his own words belie that position. It is disingenuous (to say the least) to say Zion came at the ascension, then in AD 70, (Past Tense, done deal), but is yet to come! If Zion has been, after all “spiritualized” and “fulfilled” then it is clearly wrong to say it is unfulfilled and physical. It is unwarranted to say 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 20, 21-22 were fulfilled in AD 70 and yet still future. There is not, as I stated in the debate, one syllable of textual support of this doctrine. There is not one word in Revelation that looks beyond the vista of “these things must shortly come to pass.” That claim is pre-suppositional, eisegetic, and wrong. I challenged McDurmon in our debate to produce the proof for his claims, but none was forthcoming.
So, without any question, Joel is, logically at least, positing Two Zions, Two Kingdoms! He can deny this all he wants, but, to argue for the present fulfilled reality of the spiritual kingdom but then, demand the future coming of a physical, earthly kingdom is undeniably at least a modified form of the Two Kingdom doctrine. We will return to an examination of McDurmon’s claim that I misrepresented his quotations and his position in the next and final installment.