Formal Written Debate
May 17, 2007
Well, I accidentally deleted this first affirmative so I am re-posting it here.
In 2007 I had this debate with brother Terry Benton. The debate was originally posted on my websites but due to a massive crash and a change of servers, it got lost. I am reposting it here over the next few days and weeks.
Don K. Preston’s First Affirmative
A bit of introduction: I have been in public speaking since I was 13 years old, a long time ago! I have been the pulpit minister for the last 16 years, at the Ardmore church of Christ. I have written numerous books on the end times and prophetic matters, and my website is: www.eschatology.org. I welcome correspondence and questions. I have engaged in numerous debates, both written and public, in fact, I just finished a four night, formal public debate in Memphis, Tn against a Messianic Millennialist.
Proposition: Resolved: Obligation to keep the Law ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Allow me to define my propositions:
I mean the necessity, the duty, the responsibility.
I mean by this to obey and perform the commandments, precepts and statutes.
By the term “the law” I mean what Paul meant when he used this term without modifier. When Paul used the term “the law” without a modifier, he invariably meant the Old Testament, i.e. the Torah, the Law of Moses. This included the prophets, the Psalms and wisdom literature, the Decalogue and Pentateuch. The term “the law” is the comprehensive term to include all 39 books of the Old Testament.
Until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70:
But this I mean that because of the fulfillment of all of the Torah, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, that all obligation–for anyone and everyone– to keep the Law terminated at that point.
I am happy to engage in this series of discussions. I had tried to correspond with Terry several times prior to the beginning of the discussion but, for whatever reason, never heard back from him. It was my desire to ask him the following questions prior to the on-set of the discussion, so as to save time and space. Since that could not be done previously, I will ask those questions now, asking that he give us his responses in his first negative, without fail. My questions are as follows:
1.) Was / is it possible for God to terminate His covenant (the Law) with Israel, before, and without fulfilling all of the promises of that covenant (the Law)?
2.) At what point of time, and with what event were (or will), all of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel, (be) fulfilled?
4.) Please define, as specifically as possible, “the Law” that Paul said was “the strength of sin” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
5.) When the faithful child of God dies physically today, where do they go:
A.) To the Hadean realm and Abraham’s bosom? Yes or No?
B.) Directly to heaven? Yes or No?
6.) At what point of time, and in what event, did God cast off Old Testament Israel as His Covenant people, and why did He cast them off?
Now, let me do a bit of foundation laying for my proposition:
Let me now define “the Law” a bit more in-depth than I did above. As indicated, the term “the Law” is comprehensive. Here are a few indisputable facts:
1.) The Law prophesied (Matthew 11:12): “the Law prophesied until John.”
2.) The Law foretold the resurrection (Acts 24:14).
3.) The Law included Isaiah (1 Corinthians 14:20-21), the Psalms (Romans 3:13–18 where Psalms 5, 10, 36 are all cited as “the Law.”).
4.) Psalms 82 is called “Your law” by Jesus (John 10:34).
5.) “The Law” said the Messiah would remain forever (John 12:34). This can refer to any number of O.T. prophetic books, including Psalms 89; 110; or perhaps Micah 5:2). This referent to “the Law” clearly does not refer to the Pentateuch.
So, the term “the Law” when used without a qualifier in the N. T. is a comprehensive term, inclusive of the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Prophets.
From the above, it is clear that “the Law” prophesied, and the prophets were “the Law.” Keep this in mind. It is important.
Now please note the following:
1.) The proposition does not demand that I, or my opponent when he is in the affirmative, identify for whom obligation to keep the Law ended.
2.) On that note, let me observe that the Gentiles were never under the Torah (Romans 2:14), and, when Judaizers attempted to bind Torah observation on Gentile Christians, they were condemned (Acts 15/ Galatians / Colossians 2).
3.) This means that obligation to keep Torah, until the time of its fulfillment and abrogation, would only involve non-Christians Jews, and / or, perhaps, Christian Jews (cf. Acts 21).
My affirmative will not discuss whether Christian Jews were under obligation to keep Torah until its passing. My proposition does not ask nor demand that I do so. It only sets forth the affirmative that obligation to keep the Law continued, for someone, until A.D. 70.
4.) All that my proposition demands, in the final analysis, is to prove that the Law itself did not pass until A.D. 70. If the Law remained until A.D. 70, then “someone” had an obligation to keep that law until then.
Let me now make an argument on Matthew 5:17-19: (Please note that it is not just Matthew 5:17-18. Verse 19 is important as well).
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Notice that Jesus did not come to destroy “the Law or the prophets,” but to fulfill. This is an elliptical statement meaning “but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” So, Jesus came to fulfill the Law, as well as the prophets. There is no distinction that indicates that all Jesus had to fulfill was the Law, as opposed to the prophets. This is proven in a variety of ways, but, I will allow Terry to respond before I actually address it. For the time being, I will argue that Jesus had to fulfill:
1.) The moral mandates of the Law.
2.) The typological elements of the Law.
3.) The express prophecies of the Law.
Jesus said that not one single aspect of the Law– and thus the prophets– since the Prophets are part of the Law– could pass until it was all fulfilled. Obligation to keep the Law would remain valid as long as the Law stood valid.
Therefore, obligation to keep the Law would remain valid until every single aspect of the Law–including the prophets– was fulfilled.
In an email to me, February 6, Terry made the following statement, however: “Dan. 9 shows that there were to be some things to be fulfilled after the Messiah was cut off including the destruction of the temple. Law obligation was abrogated at the cross. Fulfillment of all details of prophecy would extend to the destruction of Jerusalem.”
Thus, Terry affirms that there is a dichotomy between fulfillment of the Law, and fulfillment of prophecy. This is clearly falsified by Jesus’ express words however, when he said not one jot or one tittle would pass from the law until it was all fulfilled. Now, since we have proven that the prophets are repeatedly called the Law, then any attempt to delineate between “the law and the prophets” in regard to the necessity of fulfillment is falsified.
Just in passing, it would be interesting for Terry to debate an Adventist. They argue for a dichotomy between “the Law” and the rest of the O. T.. They argue that the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Covenant passed, but that “the Law” will never pass. Historically, the c of C has argued, very effectively, (and truthfully; and my library contains many such debates), that there is no such dichotomy in the Scriptures. We have argued that the Law is a comprehensive term, inclusive of the entire O. T. corpus! Yet now, Terry is turning the Adventist argument around, arguing that the Law passed, but the rest of the O.T. remains valid!!)
Let me express my argument succinctly, incorporating Terry’s view:
Obligation to keep the law would remain valid until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17f).
The Law included the Psalms and the prophetic books (see above).
Some prophetic elements (of the Law) continued unfulfilled until A.D. 70 (Benton).
Therefore, obligation to keep the Law remained valid until A.D. 70.
Let me make an argument based on Daniel 9:24-27 and Matthew 5.
Not one jot or tittle would pass from the Law until it was all fulfilled.
“The Law” included the prophets, the Psalms, and the Decalogue.
Daniel 9:24-27 posited the fulfillment of the entire body of prophecy, i.e. the Law, within the confines of the 70 weeks. (Seventy Weeks are determined to seal vision and prophecy).
Since not one jot or tittle of the Law could pass until it was ALL fulfilled, it is therefore impossible for “the Law” to have passed at the Cross, while constituent elements of “the Law” remained valid and unfulfilled.
Remember, none could pass until all was fulfilled.
Jesus did not say some will pass when some is fulfilled!
He did not say all would pass when some was fulfilled.
He said none would pass until all was fulfilled.
Back to Daniel 9.
Daniel 9 posits the fulfillment of vision and prophecy within the confines of the seventy weeks.
Vision and prophecy is “the Law.”
The terminus of the seventy weeks is the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (as Terry seems to agree).
Thus, the Law, and obligation to keep the Law, would remain valid until the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Add to this the following:
Vision and prophecy is “the Law.”
Seventy weeks were determined to fulfill all of vision and prophecy (the Law).
But, per Terry, “the Law” passed away at the Cross.
If therefore, the Law passed at the Cross, then the seventy weeks passed at the Cross. Yet Terry’s own statement informs us that he believes that Daniel’s prophecy extended to A.D. 70!
Essentially, what this argument means is that wherever one posits the passing of the Law, it is there that the Seventy Weeks terminated! So, Terry, please tell us, when and where did the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 reach their fulfillment and termination?
Let’s look a little closer at Matthew 5 and compare with Luke 24.
Jesus said not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the Law until it is all fulfilled.
The traditional view– that which I once believed and taught– says Jesus fulfilled all of the Law at the Cross, and that is when it passed.
But look closer.
What part of “the Law” was fulfilled at the Cross?
Was it just the 10 Commandments, or just the Pentateuch? NO!
What was fulfilled was prophecy! Isn’t that right? This is true because this is what Jesus referred to in Luke 18:31f– “We are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished, for He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked, and insulted and spit upon, and they will scourge Him, and put Him to death. And the third day He will rise again.”
What was fulfilled at the Cross was part of the typological and prophetic elements of the Law! What was fulfilled there was part (but not all) of the type/antitype High Priestly Atonement praxis. If Terry admits–as he does of course– that Christ’s passion was essential to the passing of the Law, this admits that the fulfillment of the typological (prophetic) elements of the Law was essential for the Law to pass!
Terry, tell us plainly, was the fulfillment of the prophecies of Christ’s passion necessary for the passing of the Law? Yes or No?
If Terry says yes, it was necessary that the prophecies of Christ’s passion be fulfilled in order for the Law to pass, then this means:
1.) That the Law really did prophesy.
2.) That all prophecy, i.e. the Law, had to be fulfilled for the Law to pass, and not just the prophecies of Jesus’ passion.
3.) Remember, if any prophecy had to be fulfilled for the Law to pass, this means that all prophecy had to be fulfilled for the Law to pass. A “Yes” answer means that “the Law” included the prophets, and Jesus said, “not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the Law until it is all fulfilled.” So, if Terry says it was necessary for prophecy–at least some prophecy– to be fulfilled for the Law to pass, this means that all prophecy had to be fulfilled for the Law-ad obligation to keep the Law– to pass.
If Terry says “No,” the prophecies of Jesus death did not have to be fulfilled for the Law to pass, then he flies in the face of Jesus’ emphatic statements that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer to fulfill all things!
Jesus makes it clear that his passion was fulfillment of the prophets. Now, if Terry wants to argue, as he does, that the Law–not the prophets– was fulfilled at the Cross, this text falsifies that view! Jesus said the prophets would be fulfilled at the Cross (By the way, Terry, did Jesus have to be raised from the dead to fulfill all of “the Law”, and in order for the Law to pass? Yes or No?)
Note the distinct difference also between Matthew 5:17-18 and Luke 18.
Matthew 5 is comprehensive, with no modifiers or qualifiers defining and limiting the “all” that had to be fulfilled for the Law to pass.
Further, the topic is the passing of the Law, and what was required for that to happen.
On the other hand, Luke 18 qualifies, defines and limits the “all things” under consideration. And, there is no mention of the passing of the Law in Luke 18.
So, Luke 18 cannot be used to say that all that had to be fulfilled were the prophecies of Jesus’ passion, for this flies in the face of Matthew 5.
On the one hand the traditional argument is offered that in Matthew 5 prophecy was not involved in the fulfillment of “the Law,” but then the argument turns around and insists that the “all things” that had to be fulfilled was prophecy! This effectively proves that all prophecy, as part of the Law, did have to be fulfilled before the Law could pass.
Here is the argument:
All things written in the Law had to be fulfilled before the Law could pass (Mt. 5:17f).
But, the prophets had to be fulfilled to fulfill all things (Luke 18:31).
Therefore, the prophets were part of the Law that had to be completely fulfilled– all of it, not just part– for the Law to pass.
Let’s expand that now.
Jesus makes it clear that there was much that had to be fulfilled in order to “fulfill all things written in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me” (Luke 24:44). Included in that necessity of fulfillment was not just his passion, but, “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44f)
Note that Jesus said that it was not only necessary that he suffer and rise, but that, “repentance and remission of sins be preached to all nations”as well, in order to fulfill all things,. Notice the conjunction “and” at the beginning of v. 47. The preaching to all nations was as essential for the fulfilling of “the Law” as was the Passion!
So, it was essential, in order to fulfill all things in the Law, that the gospel be preached to all the nations.
But, all things written in the Law had to be fulfilled before the Law could pass.
Therefore, it was essential that the gospel be preached to all the nations before the Law could pass.
Patently, the preaching of the gospel to all the nations was not accomplished at the Cross, or at Pentecost, but, occurred over a period of time, extending to the A.D. 60s (Colossians 1:5, 23).
Thus, the Law, and obligation to keep the Law (for someone), extended to the A.D. 60s.
Jesus said that not one jot or one tittle of the Law would pass until it was all fulfilled.
But, Jesus said that in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 “all things that are written must be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22).
Therefore, the Law– and thus obligation to keep the Law– would not pass until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
What have I established in this first affirmative:
1.) That the prophets were called “the Law” and that “the Law” prophesied.
2.) That Jesus said absolutely none of the Law– therefore inclusive of the prophets– would pass until it was all fulfilled.
3.) That Daniel 9 posited the fulfillment of “the Law” at A.D. 70.
4.) This means that wherever you posit the end of the Law, it is there that the seventy weeks terminated as well.
5.) Jesus himself said that to fulfill the Law, the prophets and the Psalms, that the gospel had to be preached to all the world. This demands that the Law did not pass at the Cross.
6.) That Jesus himself included prophecy as part of the “all” that had to be fulfilled, and that patently, not all prophecy was fulfilled at the Cross. It was not just the 10 Commandments that were fulfilled at the Cross! Prophecy was fulfilled there, and thus, this means that all prophecy had to be fulfilled for the Law to pass.
7.) Jesus himself said that the time of the fulfillment “of all things that are written,” would occur at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
With these things established, I have proven my proposition that obligation to keep the Law continued until, but ended at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Well, I have gone on long enough. I will close on this, but before doing so, I want to remind the reader of the questions that I have posed to Terry. I will ask that Terry answer them in his very first negative.