Ed Stevens– No Resurrection Today Means = No Salvation Today, OR, Universalism! – #1
This will be a two part article, so be sure to check here for part #2 that will be coming shortly.
Prior to the beginning of our formal written debate on the Rapture, I asked Ed Stevens a series of questions (as he did me).
Question #7 – Paul posited the reception of incorruptibility and immortality at the resurrection, the time of the end and the parousia. Is this your view, or do you posit the reception of immortality at physical death?
The resurrection event (not a transitionary process) was indeed the time when both the living and the dead saints of that pre-70 generation received incorruptibility and immortality. The dead saints were raised out of Hades to receive it, while the living saints were changed to receive it. It was a “once-for-all” event, never to be repeated, just like the Cross. And it has ongoing implications and benefits for every generation of saints afterwards, just like the Cross also does. In order for us post-70 saints to receive the benefits of the Cross, it does not require another crucifixion of Jesus every time someone becomes a Christian. The Cross was once-for-all. The same is true of the resurrection event. Every time one of us Christians dies, it does not require another resurrection event in order for us to receive incorruptibility and immortality. That was reserved in heaven for us at the resurrection event. As soon as we die, we put on our new immortal bodies that were reserved in heaven for us, and then go to heaven to be with Christ forever afterwards. Since we saints no longer go to Hades when we die, no resurrection out of Hades is needed. At death we simply receive the ongoing benefits of that “once-for-all” resurrection event.
Hades was emptied “once-for-all” at the resurrection event, so no saints after AD 70 go to Hades at death. And since we do not go to Hades at death, neither can we be raised out of Hades. Therefore, resurrection no longer applies to us. That means that all post-70 Christians get those ongoing benefits (incorruptibility and immortality) without having to be raised out of Hades. They are reserved in heaven for us, and we receive them (and experience the full benefits of them) immediately after we die and go to heaven.” (EoQ) (My emp. DKP)
Now, volumes could be written pointing out the full scope of error found in his answer, for instance, his claim that resurrection was “not a transitionary process” is patently false, as proven by John 5:24-29 and other passages. But I want to focus on his comment that “resurrection no longer applies to us.”
Now, it is true that there is no yet future end time resurrection. There is no future destruction of Hades; that is accomplished. But, when Stevens tries to make resurrection out of Hades to be the full expression and definition of “resurrection” he is denying a great deal of Biblical data – particularly 1 Corinthians 15.
Stevens says: “Resurrection no longer applies to us.”
Resurrection is deliverance from the Death of Adam (D-o-A); not some of it, not part of it, but all of it.
And you must realize that Stevens defines Adamic Death as:
1. Spiritual death, i.e. separation and alienation from God as a direct result of sin.
2. Physical death which comes on humans as a result of first dying spiritually.
3. Hadean Death. The reader must realize that Hadean Death, going to Abraham’s bosom or “tartarus” upon death, instead of heaven or hell, is, of logical necessity, part and parcel of Adamic Death in Stevens’ view, since he sees Hadean Death as “the death” discussed in 1 Corinthians 15.
Thus, now, Stevens has now added a third kind of Adamic Death to his equation and he has that third death as almost the exclusive focus of Paul’s resurrection discourse in 1 Corinthians 15. Notice his emphasis on the resurrection from Hades in his answer above. He says not a word about spiritual death, alienation from God or about deliverance from physical death, which he has earlier defined as “The Two Deaths of Adam.” Yet, he has told us, somewhat stridently, that both spiritual death and physical death WERE the Adamic Death.
Since Stevens defines Adamic Death (his “Comprehensive Death) as inclusive of spiritual death, physical death and Hadean Death, then he must be able to show that the Bible only predicted that a single aspect of Adamic Death, Hadean Death, was to be overcome in AD 70.
Keep in mind that in my article on the “Deaths of Adam” I noted that in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians that Paul discusses the Adamic Curse. He said, “THE” death” (SINGULAR!) entered through “the sin” (Romans 5:12–note the singularity of “the sin”). This means that whatever kind of “THE” death (SINGULAR) entered the day of sin, IT WAS ONLY ONE DEATH. Paul no where speaks of “deaths” of the Garden, or “deaths” introduced by Adam. And yet, Stevens speaks repeatedly about the deaths of the Garden! His own terminology of “deaths” (plural) exposes the fact that his doctrine of two deaths stands in contrast to the Biblical doctrine of “the death”– one death – not two. In a FaceBook post in response to my article, Stevens tried to deflect attention away from this problem by speaking of the “comprehensive” death of the Garden. By “comprehensive death” he tries to slip in his “TWO DEATH” (now, actually three) doctrine.
Stevens says that physical death entered the day of Adam’s sin. Well, “THE death” (SINGULAR), that is the focus of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 and all discussions of resurrection is, “THE death”that entered the day of sin (Romans 5:12). Thus, if physical death was “the death” that entered that Day, THERE IS NO OTHER DEATH TO BE OVERCOME! At the very least, if “the death” includes physical death, as affirmed by Stevens, then physical death MUST be overcome. But, you don’t defeat physical death by dying physically.
Consider the problem this poses for Stevens. He now wants to speak of “comprehensive death” which in his view is inclusive of spiritual death, physical death and Hadean death. This should mean that in 1 Corinthians 15, (where Paul makes no such distinctions), when he speaks of the coming abolishment of Adamic Death, that the “comprehensive death” is in view. In Pauline eschatology, deliverance from Adamic Death meant total deliverance, total victory; NOT ONE OUT OF THREE! But Stevens knows he cannot allow that, because he believes and knows that spiritual death and physical death continue to exist. Thus, Stevens’ view of “comprehensive death” dies a quick death, impaled on the text of 1 Corinthians 15.
The story of eschatology is the story of the overcoming of the death of Adam, not part of it. Stevens says Three Deaths entered the day Adam sinned: spiritual death, physical death, and now, the Hadean Death. Thus, as just noted, at the very least, Steven’s must concede that in his view only one aspect of the Adamic Deaths was conquered at Christ’s coming in AD 70. Spiritual death was not conquered. Physical death was not abolished, and yet, per Stevens, AD 70 was the end of the resurrection. But, if this is true, this leaves the Two Adamic Deaths unresolved, unconquered! Christ’s work is far, far from finished – and Edward Stevens cannot be a full preterist!
If there is no resurrection today there is no Adamic death – of any kind. Let me say this again: in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says not one word to suggest that he is focused on a single aspect of the ADAMIC DEATH. He never speaks of Adamic Deaths. He does not limit his discussion to just one of the three (claimed) Deaths of Adam. This claim is pure desperation and eisegesis on the part of Stevens. Without “three Adamic Deaths” his entire paradigm is dead.
(Interestingly, one of Stevens’ “defenders” has now stated that physical death was not, after all, the Death of Adam that was threatened to come on them that day. The “real” Adamic Death was going to hell! Physical death would merely have been the “portal” through which Adam passed that day, to enter hell. But if that is true, that contradicts Stevens (flatly so) who says that physical death WAS part and parcel of the Adamic Curse. Thus, in “defending” Stevens, this advocate has contradicted him, fatally so)!
You must realize what is being claimed here. This claim means that physical death is NOT the enemy, at all, which flies in the face of all of Ed’s cited commentaries and his entire Two Deaths of Adam claims. If physical death entered as a result of sin, (as Stevens claims) then physical death is part of the Adamic Curse. Thus, if physical death has not been conquered, Adamic Death remains fully in force!
What Paul does do in Corinthians is to say that the resurrection he anticipated was to be deliverance from the death of Hosea 13 and Isaiah 25 (he also echoes Ezekiel 37 and Daniel 12, as most scholars agree). What was that death? Was it physical death? No, read it for yourself:
When Ephraim spoke, trembling, He exalted himself in Israel; But when he offended through Baal worship, he died. Now they sin more and more, And have made for themselves molded images, Idols of their silver, according to their skill.
So, Ephraim, i.e., the nation as a corporate body, sinned, and when they sinned, they died! This is not the physical death of an individual. It is not about individual physical bodies going into the graves. It is “dead men” sinning, since, even though they died, “Now THEY sin more and more.” (My emphasis). This is the same concept found in Ezekiel 37 where as a result of their violation of Torah, the “whole house of Israel” was viewed as “in the graves.” That is defined as being in captivity. (See my new book, Paul on Trial: Paul, the Pharisees and the Resurrection, for a discussion of how the ancient Jews viewed captivity, removal from the land, as death and the grave, and they saw return to the land and to the favor of YHVH as resurrection. This is incredibly important, but unfortunately widely unknown, overlooked or ignored).
So, the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 would be deliverance from the death of Hosea 13.
But, the death of Hosea 13 was not physical death, but sin-death, loss of fellowship with YHVH- (CF Hosea 5:13- 6:1-6).
Therefore, the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 was to be deliverance from sin-death, the loss of fellowship with YHVH.
Stevens may well rejoin that Hosea 13:14 does speak of the overcoming of Sheol / Hades, and that is of course, correct. But, that simply proves the direct, inseparable connection between the overcoming of sin-death and Hadean Death. It does not help Stevens one bit! To say that Hadean Death has been overcome and that there is no resurrection today, is to affirm that sin-death has been abolished as well, and thus, there is no Conversional Resurrection. They are siamese twins that cannot be separated. And since Stevens says that we only die physically because we first die spiritually, then if / since sin death has been conquered for the Christian, of logical necessity, physical death has also been annulled!
Stevens seems oblivious of these facts or chooses to ignore them. He certainly does not seem to make his views on this widely known to his followers! (Just recently, on FaceBook, when I called attention to some of Stevens’ views, one of his defenders was clearly disturbed by what I shared and was unaware of what I said Stevens believes. He challenged me to document my claim. When I did, Stevens’ defender went totally silent. It was patently clear that he was stunned to learn what he did about Stevens’ view).
Paul did not ignore these issues since in 1 Corinthians 15 he anticipated the resurrection as the time when “sin, the sting of death” was overcome. Thus, for Paul, resurrection very clearly had to do with overcoming sin-death, meaning he was focused on spiritual death and not only on Hadean Death and resurrection. And this means, as noted herein, since Stevens’ view of Comprehensive Adamic Death is that Sin Brings–>Spiritual Death–> which leads directly to Physical Death –> which led to Hadean Death, that to affirm the abolishment of Hadean Death DEMANDS that spiritual death and physical death was abolished as well. If spiritual death and physical death (Stevens’ TWO DEATH paradigm) have not been abolished (and I am safe in saying that physical death has not been annulled) then Stevens cannot be a preterist.
By interjecting physical death into the Adamic Curse, Stevens has destroyed his own (claimed) eschatology.
Be sure to get a copy of my newest book, Paul on Trial: Paul, The Pharisees and the Resurrection for an incredibly important study of the nature of the resurrection.