Benton’s 2nd Negative
Obligation to keep the Law ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Don K. Preston affirms, and
Terry W. Benton denies.
In addition to the material on this subject within this debate, I would like to encourage the reader to visit www.pinelanechurchofchrist.com for a lot more material on various topics including Revelation and sermons on the Law.
Did Don prove his proposition to be correct? Always come back to the proposition and see if it is being proven by the affirmative. If a man has to talk about “eschatology” and build his case on eschatology theory rather than offer simple scriptural evidence that pertains to the PROPOSITION, you had better approach with caution. As I said in my first negative, I will ignore those things that have no bearing on proving the proposition, and will show the flaws in the arguments Don uses on certain verses that may appear to be supportive for his proposition.
Some Serious Problems For Don
1. In his first affirmative he argued that nothing could pass from the law till it (meaning all its promises and including every promise in the Psalms and the Prophets) was ALL completely fulfilled.
2. His proposition needs Matthew 5:17-19 to refer to ALL promises of God as well as all obligations of law upon man. Without that meaning attached to the verse, his whole proposition falls. Knowing that he cannot do without that slant on Matthew 5:17-19, he was forced to look for a way to protect his theory, and the only way out was to admit that even the shadows of the Law had to also be binding on unbelieving Jews until AD 70. Thus, he is in a real predicament.
a. But he has problems reconciling that slant on Matt.5:17-19 with other things he has said. For example, he said on his website:
Quote: Through and under the gospel man is free from the restrictions of the Old Law and being judged in regard to meat, drink, new moons, feast days, and the observance of days, weeks, months and years (Galatians 4; Colossians 2). Unquote.
So, did Don find a way for the “restrictions of the Old Law” to “pass away” without every promise being fulfilled? People were “under the gospel” long before AD 70. So, Don has to give up his argument on Matthew 5:17-19 OR he has to give up the argument he made above to the Millenialists. But, he cannot sustain BOTH positions. I say he is right about his argument to the Millenialists, but he is wrong about the argument he has made to me in this debate regarding Matthew 5:17-19. He made some more arguments to the Millenialists:
Quote: Through and under the gospel the law of circumcision as a characteristic identifying mark of the child of God is removed, for we receive the circumcision of the heart, a circumcision not made with hands, in faith and baptism (Colossians 2:11-12).
Through and under the gospel all believers are priests unto God, to offer up spiritual sacrifices (Hebrews 13:15; Revelation 1:5f).
Through and under the gospel, because we have the forgiveness of sin, animal sacrifices have been abolished because, “where there is remission of sin, there is no more sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:16-18).
Through and under the gospel, we memorialize the deliverance from sin and death through his sacrifice, in our Communion Supper. The Communion Supper is the memorial of deliverance. It is not “for atonement,” but a celebration of atonement. (Article: “I Will Make A New Covenant”) –Unquote.
All of those are fine arguments that Don makes to the Millenialists, but they do not harmonize with his position in THIS debate that says that “obligation to keep the Law ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70”.
b. People were “under the gospel” for forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
c. Don chides the prospects of the Millenialist’ theories that the Law system could be restored in the millennium WHILE the gospel was still in effect:
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no Temple worship mandated, for the church is the Temple of God, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, Temple worship will be restored.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no genealogically based priesthood, with exclusive rights to offer liturgical sacrifices, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, the Levitical, exclusionary, genealogically based priesthood will be restored.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no animal sacrifice, since Christ’s blood has brought remission of sin, but, then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, animal sacrifices will be offered “for atonement.”
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no mandate to observe new moons, feast days, and Sabbaths, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, all men will be required to observe the feast days, new moons and Sabbaths.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no Jew and Gentile distinction, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, Jew and Gentile distinctions will be restored.
Now, in Christ, under the gospel, there is no theologically mandated practice of physical circumcision, but then, in the millennium, under the Jeremiad covenant, physical circumcision will once again be mandated by God.
As you can see, according to the millennial view of things, the Jeremiad covenant will supposedly restore virtually everything that the gospel now forbids, and will forbid much of what the gospel mandates. Is it possible to so fundamentally alter, distort and pervert the gospel of Christ without completely nullifying it? And if you nullify the gospel, what then of the salvation brought by the gospel?
In light of these dilemmas, we might ask, are two covenants in existence during the millennium? Will the gospel continue to be the law for Christians, while the Jews are under the Jeremiad New Covenant? – Unquote.
As the reader can clearly see, Don correctly argues with the Millenialists about the impossibility of the gospel and the restored law (Jeremiad covenant) co-existing at the same time. Now, all the millenialists will have to do is look at this debate and what Don is affirming, and see that he has argued for two covenants being in force at the same time for 40 years. If they can co-exist in “obligation” form for 40 years, then they can do just fine in the millennium. If not, why not? While I agree with Don’s arguments with the Millenialists, Don has now surrendered to them that his whole argument was invalid by affirming his proposition and denying mine. They will surely say that if he can have people under obligation to the gospel and the law for 40 years, then they can also have it that way for 1000 years. If not, why not?
d. He further emphasized the dilemma of the Millenialist in the following words. But as you read Don’s words about THEM (the Millenialists’ dilemma), also be thinking about the dilemma Don is in by trying to have the Law of Moses in effect for forty years while the gospel was in effect. He says:
Paul said that circumcision was nullified by Christ’s gospel, and that to practice it as a command of God nullifies grace and his gospel. How would that not be true in the millennium? The re-establishment of circumcision would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
Paul taught that the practice of Jew and Gentile distinctions is a violation of the oneness for which Christ died. If the Jew and Gentile distinctions are restored, how does this not impugn the gospel for which Christ died? The restoration of ethnic distinctions would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
Paul taught that because of the remission of sin through Christ’s blood, animal sacrifices are abolished. If therefore animal sacrifices are restored “for an atonement,” just exactly how does this not demand a rejection of Christ’s sacrifice? The restoration of animal sacrifices would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
Paul said that he was “afraid” of the Galatians (4:8f, and Colossians), for allowing themselves to be judged on whether they observed feast days, new moons, Sabbaths and eating restrictions. If those observances are mandated by the Jeremiad New Covenant, what happens to Paul’s command not to be judged by those things? The restoration of the imposition of cultic feast days would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.”
What happens to the gospel if the things it now condemns are mandated, and the things it now mandates are forbidden? What happens if the current “expressions of saving faith” are radically altered and transformed into a return to the practices now forbidden by the gospel? That would be “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.” Is it possible to establish a system that is “a diametrical contrast to Christianity,” without that system being in opposition to the gospel? Is it not “anti-gospel” to propose the replacement of the gospel with a system that is “a diametrical contrast to Christianity.” – Unquote!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Preston-Preston Debate. I can now bow out and let Don answer himself, and I’ll just wait to see which Don emerges from the debate with himself.
e. Don admits that the gospel is opposed to the things enjoined by the law when he says:
Quote: The word of Jesus Christ will never pass away (Matthew 24.35, Ice concurs).
The word of Christ is the current gospel, the covenant of grace.
Therefore, the gospel of Jesus Christ–the current covenant of grace will never pass away!
What that means should be obvious:
The current gospel of Christ will never pass away.
But the current gospel of Christ forbids animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc..
Therefore, the current gospel of Christ, since it will never pass away, will never cease to forbid animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc. – Unquote!
Now, Don will either have to surrender that argument to the Millenialists, or he will have to surrender the proposition he signed for this debate.
f. Don sees the conflict of having two covenants (the gospel and the “Jeremiad covenant”) in place at the same time in the previous and following quote. But, notice, that is the same problem he has to deal with in the forty years of gospel covenant preaching before the destruction of Jerusalem. He admitted:
If the Jeremiad covenant commands animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc., but the gospel forbids animal sacrifices, localized Temple worship, observance of feast days, physical circumcision, etc., what shall inhabitants of the millennium do? Which covenant do they obey? – Unquote.
g. We agree. But, what about those forty years when Don says that “obligation” was to the Law of Moses AND the gospel of Christ?
h. Don also has admitted that the Jeremiah covenant of Jeremiah 31 IS the gospel of Christ and was established in His death. He says:
Since the gospel gives what the promised Jeremiad covenant was to give, we conclude that the gospel of Christ is the promised Jeremiad covenant. Further, since the gospel can never be removed or replaced, we conclude that there cannot be another covenant, in any proposed millennium, that will supercede or replace the gospel of Christ.
God kept His word. The New Covenant has been established by Christ through his death. –Unquote!
Amazingly, then, Don has made MY arguments, but only against the Millenialists, and then validates the possibility of two covenants obligating people for the 40 years between Jesus’ death on the cross and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Thus, he made valid arguments to the Millenialists, and then took them away in this debate. They will now have a hey-day reviewing the Preston-Preston Debate.
Major Dilemma With Matthew 5:17-19
Since Don’s first affirmative made this verse his primary argument for concluding that “obligation to keep the Law ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70”, and he argued that every promise of God had to be fulfilled before ANY commands could be changed or cancelled, then he had to concede that all types and shadows such as circumcision, priesthood, animal sacrifices, etc., had to remain binding until the destruction of Jerusalem (thus for forty years after the cross). This is the thing he argues with the Millenialists cannot be done in the so-called 1000 years “Jeremiad covenant” that they propose. Now, while Don tries to get himself out of his own entanglement, let me point out the truth about Matthew 5:17-19.
A Syllogism On Matthew 5:17-19:
Major Premise: Whatever “the law or the prophets” entails at the start of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17-19, “the law and the prophets” entails that same material in Matthew 7:12 toward the end of Jesus’ sermon.
Minor Premise: It is not within our power to “fulfill” the PROMISES of God scattered throughout the Old Testament, but it IS within our power to keep the COMMANDS and obligations placed upon us throughout the Old Testament, and we can do what the Law and the Prophets command by “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
Conclusion: Therefore, Matthew 5:17-19 does NOT include the promises of God.
Major Premise: If “the Law or the Prophets” mean every promise of God has to be fulfilled before ANY commands can cease to be obligated, then our practice of the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 will satisfy and fulfill every promise of God.
Minor Premise: People could practice the Golden Rule and thus fulfill the Law and the Prophets long before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Conclusion: Therefore, either every PROMISE of GOD could be fulfilled in our practice of the Golden Rule, or “the Law or the Prophets” in Matthew 5:17-19 have to do with commands and obligations upon man ONLY.
Colossians 2:17 and Present Tense
Having seen the trouble he was in by arguing as he did on Matthew 5:17-19, he had to change his tune (the one he was singing against the Millenial position of the Jeremiad covenant), and now affirm that even the “shadows” were still in force until the destruction of Jerusalem. He had to appeal to the Present Tense of “are” a shadow in Colossians 2:17 to make his theory on Matthew 5:17-19 hold up. But, in either direction, there is water leaking into his boat, and now he cannot stop his boat from sinking. He now argues that since the “shadows” of the Law, such as food, drink, circumcision, priesthood, etc., are spoken of in the present tense, that they “are” shadows, that this means that they were still (for the forty years before AD 70) presently binding obligation upon all Jews.
First, we note that he has two laws in effect at the same time, and that is what he argued to the Millenialists can’t be done.
Secondly, verse 16 says to presently “let no one judge you in food or in drink” etc., but, if they were still “obligations” then they should have been judged regarding those things. Don cannot escape by his appeal to the fact that those things were presently referred to as “shadows”. If they were still obligations, then they had to be enforced, and you HAVE to judge people on violations of binding law, else it is useless to have law.
Thirdly, the substance “IS”(present tense) of Christ. It does not say that Christ WILL be the substance in AD 70. So, we ask, were brethren to take the “substance” of Jesus as High Priest AND the “shadow” of the Levitical priesthood AT THE SAME TIME? Don says “impossible” when talking to the Millenialists, but now affirms that some Jews (Christian Jews) were obligated to TWO priesthoods at the same time for 40 years. But, out the other side of his mouth he admits that the Christian Jews could become “dead to the law” while the unbelieving Jews are obligated to keep the law and thus reject the offering and priesthood of Christ. He tries to get some out from under the law while insisting that the law remain binding for others before and without it all being fulfilled. If the unbelieving Jew is obligated to keep the Law with it’s priesthood, then the Law obligates unbelievers to reject the priesthood of Jesus.
Fourthly, Don is also in the predicament of having to explain why God commanded Peter to violate the food laws he was still “presently” under when He offered Peter all kind of creatures and told him to “kill and eat”. Peter considered those things “unclean” and was told that they were now “cleansed” (Acts 10). Don is actually arguing that God was commanding Peter to SIN and violate BINDING Law, a law that would be binding all the way to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Believe this if you can believe Don’s premise that NOTHING could be abolished or cease to be binding before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. But, out the other side of Don’s mouth, he had to admit that there was a way for the law of commandments to be “abolished” if one was “baptized into the death of Christ”, and that this could happen before it was ALL fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. So, out one side of his mouth he says obligation cannot cease until EVERY promise is fulfilled, and then out the other side of his mouth says that there is a way to NOT be obligated if you will die to it and join Christ.
Fifthly, the fact that unbelieving Jews preferred to remain under the shadows at that present time does not mean that GOD was holding them under obligation to the shadows rather than the substance. God was holding them responsible for NOT believing the substance (Christ) and therefore for “neglecting so great salvation”(Heb.2:1-3).
Sixthly, we can become “dead to the law” before the external carcass of its types and shadows are burned or buried. The unbelieving Jews were keeping the carcass or external elements of the Law and priesthood above ground and telling people there was still LIFE in it. But, those things too were vanishing away. God was not holding anyone under “obligation” to two laws and two priesthoods at the same time. The destruction of Jerusalem would supply another “confirmation” that the law of commandments had been abolished at the cross, and the externals of that system that had been kept above ground was now ready to pass away from visible usage.
Imposed Until The Time of Reformation
In his second affirmative, along with his present tense argument from Colossians 2:17, he argued that the shadows were “imposed until the time of reformation”(Heb.9:6-10), and he implies that the “time of reformation” would begin after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
First, the time of reformation begins when the New Covenant arrives and when Jesus could then be “High Priest” (Heb.8:6; 9:11), and when He could lawfully offer “His own blood” and enter the Most Holy Place “once for all”(Heb.9:12). This was all accomplished between His death and the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Thus, the time of reformation had begun.
Secondly, Jesus was High Priest and “changed the law” (Heb.7:11f) long before AD 70. Thus, the “time of reformation” began when Jesus “changed the Law” and became our High Priest. Clearly, if Priesthood and the Law have “changed”, then it was the time of reformation.
Thirdly, the fact that unbelieving Jews preferred the “impositions” over the “substance” of great salvation in Christ and tried to keep them above ground in no way implies that GOD was keeping those things IMPOSED at the same time that people were obligated to Jesus Christ as King and Priest forever.
Fourthly, if “obligation” to the law was still in place, then it was not lawful for a Man of Judah to offer sacrifice, to say nothing of offering up Himself. Those under the law could not accept an offering from a man of the tribe of Judah. Only Levitical priests could offer sacrifices while the law is still obligating them. Therefore, it would have been a SIN to accept the offering of Jesus (a man of Judah, not Levi) while under “obligation” to the full law of Moses. Of course, if “obligation” had changed from Moses to Jesus, and Jesus was given “all authority” (Matt.28:18f), and that long before the destruction of Jerusalem, then Don’s whole proposition and the major and minor premises he has used in his first and second affirmatives become wholly proven to be false.
Ready To Vanish Away
Don appeals to Hebrews 8:13 in support of his theory that the entire Old Covenant with types and shadows of things, including circumcision, foods, and the Levitical priesthood remained binding until AD 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem.
First, the Hebrew writer is speaking from the standpoint of when Jeremiah said “new covenant”. From THAT moment (when Jeremiah said the word “new”) the present covenant he was under was “growing old and ready to vanish away”.
Secondly, even if the Hebrew writer interjects the thought into his own time, the idea would be that the visible aspects that unbelieving Judaism was maintaining IN SPITE of the reality, presence, and substance of Jesus’ kingship and priesthood, the day would soon come when the remaining visible carcass of lifeless Judaism would vanish away. That does not say or imply that it was still binding from GOD’s vantage point. The priesthood of Christ was already binding and in operation. Therefore, everyone was obligated to Jesus, not to the law of Moses. Therefore, from God’s standpoint, the Levitical priesthood could not be legitimate and binding.
The Typological Element
Don says “it was obligatory to fulfill the typological element of the New Moon, Feast Days, Sabbaths and sacrifices before the Law could pass”.
All those things were fulfilled in Jesus and then “taken out of the way” (Col.2:14-17). On the basis that it was nailed to the cross, they were to “let no one judge you” in regard to those types. Jesus was the SUBSTANCE, and after the substance comes and fulfills them then He can “take them out of the way”. He did this at the cross, not at the destruction of Jerusalem.
If Don is correct, then Jesus could not “change” the law or become a priest, nor could living Jews or anyone else recognize or honor this unlawful priesthood. Don admits that people could “die to the law”, but he will not admit that Jesus could and did “change” the law (Heb.7:12). He allows Jesus to die and come out from under the law and change things in another world BEFORE ALL the law and prophets were fulfilled (per his first affirmative). But, that cannot be legitimate even in another realm, if all the typological elements and prophets were not fulfilled first. It just means a sinner died and other sinners can pretend to be “dead to the law” on the basis of the death of a law-breaker.
Secondly, Don’s theory means that God told Peter to sin in eating meats that would remain unclean for about 20-30 more years.(Acts 10).
When “The Strength of Sin” Was Removed
Don argued that “the resurrection would be when the Law that was/is the strength of sin was/is removed”. And he based this on 1 Cor.15:55-56.
First, we have not argued that the law is no longer a Testimony. In fact, we clearly argued that it remains as a Testimony to Christ. It is also a testimony to what righteousness is, and to what sin is. It continues to “give instruction in righteousness”(2 Tim.3:15-17). It also “reproves” of sinful conduct, and also, when used lawfully, identifies and convicts of sin (1 Tim.1:5-10).
Secondly, as long as the law can serve such purposes, the very presence of sin is strengthened by such testimony against us. Any reminder of sins’ reality (no matter what law serves as the reminder) gives strength to sin. Sin condemns and any law that describes sin, whether that law is binding or not, strengthens the case for Satan’s accusations against us and legitimizes the case for our condemnation.
Thirdly, we would ask Don if sin is given strength by any law today, and what law gives strength to sin today since he says that the law of Moses has “passed away” and can no longer serve that purpose?
Fourthly, based upon that faulty argument he went on to say “Therefore, the resurrection would be when the Law of Moses was/is removed”. But, the point of 1 Cor.15 is that the resurrection will enter us into heaven where no sin can enter, and therefore the Law could not identify and convict of what no longer exists. But, Don is arguing that we are NOW in that period where there is no law and no sin. And, since there is no law and no sin, there is no longer a need for the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, per Don’s argument, we are no longer in need of salvation from sin, and there is no “hope” (how can a man hope for what he already has –Rom.8:24) for us. This is the logical conclusion from the kind of message Don is preaching and affirming in this debate.
He argues further:
You cannot admit that the Law that was the strength of sin was the Mosaic Law, without thereby admitting that the resurrection and the end of the Law are synchronous events.
Those two things are not synchronous. You can have the Law of Moses identifying righteousness and sin, without being “obligated” to the whole system of law. For example, the Gentiles did by nature the things contained in the Law (Rom.2:14-15), and they can show “the work of the Law” written in their hearts. This was happening even WHILE they were not OBLIGATED to the whole system of the Law including circumcision (Rom.2:26,27). Thus, “the strength of sin was the Mosaic Law” even in Gentiles who were not obligated to that Law. The fact that sin still exists and the law still instructs and identifies sin, proves that the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 has NOT occurred, and it further proves that Don is in a quagmire of errors associated with “eschatology”, and with the Law, and with the very presence of SIN, and with whether we today even need the blood of Christ since the destruction of Jerusalem. His eschatological views color his view of every other subject and they keep sinking him deeper and deeper into the quicksand of his theories.
His Argument On Daniel 12:2-7
He says, “The resurrection of the dead would occur when the power of the holy people was completely shattered (Daniel 12:2-7)”.
A resurrection occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem. It is the kind of resurrection spoken of in Romans 11:15. It was a resurrection brought on by the interest and faith in God stimulated by the events they were experiencing, while that same event raised the hardness of hearts to a new level. The destruction of Jerusalem raised some from death to spiritual life, while that same event served to raise others to more hardness and greater condemnation. This is not speaking of the same kind of resurrection as is discussed in 1 Corinthians 15. This passage speaks of the same kind of resurrection as happened to Jesus when He was raised from the dead as the “firstfruits”.
Don adds: The power of the holy people was the Torah, and God’s relationship with Old Covenant Israel.
This is unfounded assumption. The power they had was only in the perception that they were still God’s holy people. God would make clear in the destruction of Jerusalem that they were not what they appeared to be.
Don then adds: Therefore, the resurrection of the dead would occur when the Torah and God’s relationship with Old Covenant Israel was destroyed.
He implies by this that God was still maintaining covenant “relationship” with the very people who rejected Him and His Son and crucified Jesus with “lawless hands” (Acts 2). He has another dilemma in that the law was “nailed to the cross” and was “taken out of the way” at the cross. The old covenant was cancelled at the cross and the new covenant was inaugurated (Heb.9:15f). The remaining visual appearances (temple, priesthood, and sacrifices, etc.) that gave impressions to the world that they were still his covenant people, were destroyed in AD 70. So, all the assumptions Don used are demonstrated to be false. He confuses the “awakening” visualized in Daniel 12 with the resurrection that is a follow-up to Jesus’ literal resurrection described by Paul in 1 Cor.15. We do not grant him that assumption. Neither context allows that association. There was an “awakening” associated with the destruction of Jerusalem. There was NOT the kind of resurrection described in 1 Cor.15 associated with the AD 70 event.
His “All Commands, Some Prophecy” Argument
1) Where does Jesus say, “Until all the commandments, and some prophecy, is fulfilled, the Law will not pass”? He does not, and TERRY OFFERED NOT ONE VERSE TO PROVE THAT CLAIM. This distinction, however, is critical to Terry’s paradigm.
First, whatever “the Law or the Prophets” entailed in Matthew 5:17-19 (the first part of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount), that same material is entailed in Matthew 7:12 (the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount). Everything in between concerned “commandments” that the Pharisees ignored or violated and which would be part of the righteousness emphasized and fulfilled by those who would enter the kingdom of heaven. But, “doing unto others…”(the obligation upon MAN) could be the main principle that fulfills the Law and the Prophets. If that does not “fulfill” it, then Jesus was mistaken here (in Matt.7:12), and Paul was also mistaken (in Rom.13:8-10). Don is the one that expanded “the Law or the Prophets” in Matthew 5:17f to include every PROMISE God ever made. The context does not demand that assumption. So, we cannot grant the assumption to Don. Whatever Jesus meant in both Matthew 5:17 and in 7:12 and all in between, He was referring to those obligations on man’s part that could be fulfilled in the practice of the Golden Rule.
Secondly, whether some promises were associated in ANOTHER CONTEXT and additionally show that Christ would “nail the law of commandments” to the cross and “change the law” (Heb.7:12f; Col.2:14f), is an issue unassociated with the subject matter of Matthew 5-7. Don needs this association and therefore forces it into the text, but the text itself does not demand it, and other verses show that Don is wrong. The law was “taken out of the way” at the cross. The law was also “changed” long before AD 70.
Passing of the Law Versus Passing Out From Under The Law
Don argues that I changed “the focus from the passing of the Law, to the passing out from under the Law, and “there is a huge difference!” He further says, “Jesus was not talking of individuals being free from obligation to the Law”.
First, I admitted there was a difference in my first negative. That is why I did not argue for a complete “passing” of the Law. I argued that the law could be abolished without “passing” and be “changed” without “passing”. But, notice that Don is back-peddling from his proposition. His proposition says that “OBLIGATION to the Law” continued all the way to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Now he is having to admit that people could pass out from under “obligation”to the Law “before” the destruction of Jerusalem. But, his whole premise, built on Matthew 5:17-19, was that obligation could not pass until every promise found in the Old Testament was completely fulfilled. He now confesses that individuals could be “free from obligation to the Law” without every promise first being fulfilled. SO, he has shot his own argument on Matthew 5:17-19 in the foot. What he needs to realize is that if one Jew could pass out from under obligation to the law, then all could, and all were obligated to pass out from under it. If ONE JEW SHOULD be obligated to Jesus instead of the Law of Moses, then ALL MUST. If one Jew should “die to the law” and thus no longer be “obligated” to keep it, then ALL JEWS are obligated to die to the law and be obligated to the “all authority” of Jesus. If all Jews are obligated to Jesus, they cannot be both obligated to Jesus and to Moses at the same time. If ALL Jews are obligated to honor Jesus as King and Priest, they cannot be obligated to reject Jesus’ priesthood and continue to honor and uphold the Levitical priesthood and offerings. Thus, this distinction does not rescue Don from the error of his proposition.
He further argued that “If ANY prophecies had to pass for the Law to pass, then ALL of the prophecies had to pass for the Law to pass!” But, we are not arguing (per Don’s proposition) whether the LAW ever “passed” at all. We are arguing about whether OBLIGATION to the Law continued to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. He has admitted that “obligation” HAS passed to those who entered the death of Christ. But, He allowed Jesus’ death to “change” the law and priesthood without first “fulfilling ALL the prophecies”. He allowed that Jesus changed the LAW without first fulfilling all the promises. But, his whole argument would therefore make it illegal for Jesus to change the Law when He did. It is not an issue of when or IF the Law ever “passed”. We have agreed now that “obligation to the Law” did NOT continue to the destruction of Jerusalem (at least for Jews who did what they were obligated to do, namely, obey Jesus instead of Moses). The only issue left is whether everyone was obligated to “die to the Law” and “live under the authority of Jesus Christ” before the destruction of Jerusalem. If Don ever answers this question, he will either have to surrender the issue of two laws he raised to the Millenialists, or he will have to surrender the validity of his present proposition.
Normal and Exceptional Use of “The Law”
Terry claims that if the term the Law is ever used in a limited way , that invalidates my point on Matthew 5:17f.
1.) Wrong! Terry, are you telling us that an exceptional use of a word or term in one text destroys the normal use of that word and term in all other texts? Is that what you are saying?
First, I said Don’s claim that “the Law” is always comprehensive is proven invalid if there are exceptions. Don now concedes that I proved that and he was wrong. But, to cover himself he says there is a “normal usage” and an “exceptional usage”, and then he simply asserts that Matthew 5:17f is using it in that “normal” way. He is obligated to prove it is comprehensive of all promises of God.
Secondly, what ever “normal” usage Jesus intended in Matthew 5:17-19, He intended that same usage in Matthew 7:12. So, Don is the one creating an unusual meaning of Law or prophets so that he can force his wild eschatological theories into an appearance of validity. Jesus used the terms in reference to man’s obligations only, and Don forced the unusual meaning onto the text.
Thirdly, Don was forced to admit that the “Law” did not always refer to the entire Old Testament including Psalms, Prophets, and every promise mentioned. Thus, he has surrendered one major premise he made in his first affirmative. He admits now that there are “exceptions”. But, this admission obligates him to prove that Jesus meant something more in Matt.5:17 than he meant in 7:12. Since Jesus could mean “not a jot or tittle of the law contained in ordinances or the handwriting of requirements” could pass till all is fulfilled, then Don is obligated to prove that it does not mean the same thing in Matt.5:17 as it means in 7:12, AND it doesn’t mean in Matt.5:17 what it means in Col.2 and Eph. 2. Until he proves it, his whole line of argument continues to be more “smoke” with no real valid substance.
He says, “where is the qualifier in Matthew 5? “Not one jot or one tittle” is comprehensive. “Until all is fulfilled” is comprehensive”
It is comprehensive of every command that can be kept or broken. The Pharisees were breaking more than jots and tittles, were teaching others to as well, and yet they were claiming that Jesus would destroy the law. Every jot and tittle of the Law of commandments “contained in ordinances” were “taken out of the way” and nailed to the cross because by that time Jesus had kept and upheld that Law, every jot and tittle of it, thus making Him a fit sacrifice to take away our sins. Whatever Paul included in Eph.2:14f and Col.2:14f is what Jesus was speaking of in Matt.5:17 and 7:12.
Of this verse Don argued: “Terry has Israel cast out before she ever persecuted the seed of promise”.
First, as Paul wrote, the second covenant was in place, and he was himself converted over from being associated with Hagar and Mount Sinai. He argues that Hagar and Mount Sinai correspond to “Jerusalem which now is”. Paul is claiming that he was no longer associated with that Jerusalem. Paul is arguing that we are not obligated to the first covenant but the second covenant. If anyone remained associated with the Old Covenant, it was by BLIND CHOICE, not by obligation of God. From God’s perspective, all are obligated to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant. Those who rejected this Mediator and Covenant would be cast out at the destruction of Jerusalem. In this text, they are cast out because they rejected the New Covenant and all that the Old had promised. “Casting out” the Old Covenant in the destruction of Jerusalem does not mean that God was holding people “obligated” to live by that covenant.
Secondly, He is casting out the covenant and the children of that covenant because they preferred the bondage of that system over the liberty of the New Covenant. Waiting a while to visibly cast them out, is not the same as keeping people under “obligation” to that covenant. When were they “broken off” the tree of God? Paul says it was when they did not “believe”(Rom.11:15-21) when “the faith had come”(Gal.3:23-25). So, the covenant was cancelled at the cross (Eph.2:14; Col.2:14f), the unbelievers were “broken off”(Rom.11) and all that was left was to “gather them and throw them into the fire”(Jno.15:6). This is the phase called “casting out” in Gal.4:30.
Thirdly, Paul was not under two covenants at once. No one had a “right” or “obligation” to prefer the first covenant over the second. This is why I asked Don, and he did not answer, if all Jews were “obligated” to Jesus. If all Jews were obligated to Jesus, and they were (Jno.12:48), then they were obligated to His priesthood, sacrifice, and New Covenant. If they were obligated to Jesus in all these ways, then they could NOT also be obligated to the Old Covenant with priesthood and sacrifices at the same time.
Passing From Under The Law Revisited
This is where Terry’s negative founders. He thinks that the first century saints died to the Law because the Law had passed. This is patently false as shown above.
Again, I said nothing about the law “passing”. I said they were no longer an “obligation”, but I said that the law had not “passed” from every role it would serve. However, Don is admitting that people could pass from “obligation” to the law even before all the “eschatological promises”(his term) were all fulfilled. If he admits that people can pass from under the law before and without it ALL being fulfilled, then he surrenders his argument on Matthew 5:17-19. If one Jew SHOULD “pass from under the Law” before and without it ALL being fulfilled (per Don’s argument), then ALL Jews are “OBLIGATED” to “pass from under the Law”. If God is obligating them to Jesus, and He is (Acts 3:19ff), then He is not also obligating them to continue to keep the Law of Moses. Thus, Don’s proposition is proven to be false.
His Berlin Escape Illustration
He illustrated the “passing from under the Law” by comparing it to people wanting to escape East Berlin and when they get past the wall dying to the Law of East Berlin.
First, Don’s illustration falls apart when we realize that all those who COULD escape East Berlin were not in the same position as Jews under the Law of Moses. The analogy falls apart on several points. If East Berlin were like the Law of Moses, it would have instructed people to hope for the wall to fall and to have trained people for the great escape and obligated everyone to take the way of escape when it was opened. If every Jew and Gentile is obligated to be “baptized into His death” and thereby escape the bondage of the Law, then no Jew or Gentile was obligated to keep the Law and thereby refuse to escape.
Secondly, if every Jew could escape the Law of Bondage, then they were obligated to escape or remain condemned. But, if every Jew could escape the Law, and they could do it before it was all fulfilled (keep Don’s Matt.5:17 argument in mind), then they were obligated NOT to remain under the law (thus Don’s proposition falls).
Admission on Colossians 2
Don admitted that “In his death, Christ destroyed the obligation to the Law”.
What an admission! Did Don forget that his PROPOSITION said that “obligation to keep the Law remained until the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70”? Now he flip-flops and is forced by Col.2 to admit that there WAS a way for “obligation” to cease before all the law and the prophets( including every promise of God about anything) was fulfilled. Again, we are amazed at the Preston-Preston Debate.
He says “Significantly, TERRY ADMITS AND AFFIRMS MY POINT!” Don then says:
He says: “Obligation to man’s requirements in the law could pass or be cancelled without the Law and all prophecies being cancelled and without the Law itself ever “passing away”.
AMEN, AND AMEN! That is my point! That is precisely what I have established, and it shows beyond doubt that the Torah had not been removed at the cross.
How could this be his point? His proposition says “obligation to keep the Law” continued past the cross and all the way to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This only shows that everyone was OBLIGATED to come to Jesus and escape the Law of Moses. We have not been arguing about “removal of the Torah”. We are talking about “obligation to keep the Law”. The Bible shows that that obligation ceased at the cross and all men became obligated to the “all authority” of Jesus.
Don says they “died to the Torah” by entering Jesus’ death, but the Torah did not die.
Don misses the point. Everyone is obligated to enter Jesus’ death and NOBODY was obligated to stay under the Torah. All who thought they should were NOT doing what God was obligating them to do. Thus, Don’s proposition is proven to be false. His clever maneuver still does not work to prove his proposition.
There Are Priests Who Serve According To The Law
Don argues that God was still “obligating” Levitical priests to serve according to the Law, and that they were doing so still when the Hebrew writer wrote (Heb.8:5).
Is the Hebrew writer saying that these Levitical priests were doing RIGHT? Is it saying that they were “obligated” by God and binding Law to continue that priesthood and reject the priesthood of Christ? This is what Don signed up to prove, and he has not done so yet. The fact that the temple and Levitical priesthood were acting by a law that was now nailed to the cross, was only proof of unbelief and LACK of submission to the will of God. The coming destruction of Jerusalem would only verify God’s DISPLEASURE with them because they were NOT doing what they were “obligated to do” (namely, leave the non-binding Law of Moses, and believe in the Supremacy of Jesus Christ).
On Entering The Most Holy Place
He says that “if the faithful child of God, that dies physically today, cannot enter the Most Holy Place, then of necessity, the Mosiac Law, with its feast days, washings, carnal ordinances, etc., is still imposed, obligatory!”
Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place. Since Jesus entered the Most Holy Place as High Priest (Heb.9:12) then the old shadows and types were fulfilled and no longer enforced by God. Jesus is our forerunner, and that means that one day we will get to enter the real Presence, the Most Holy Place. The Way to this is now open and obviously found in Jesus Christ.
Don says, “If the Law was removed at the Cross, man should have access to the MHP today.”
Don confuses the issue again. The “way into the Holiest of All” is by Jesus. Jesus is the Way. To keep the shadows reveals that one does not know the way. To know Jesus means that the way into the MHP has been revealed and clarified.
Symbolic of the Present Time
Don says “Hebrews says those things were still imposed at the time of Hebrews, (“symbolic of the present time”.v9), and would continue to be imposed, until the time of reformation.”
Don misunderstands. The Tabernacle was symbolic of what we have at the present time (as the Hebrew writer was writing). These tabernacle things had been imposed until the intended “time of reformation”. That time was now (as of the writing of Hebrews) presently engaged with a new priesthood, new covenant, new and better sacrifice, a new and living way. Since Jesus was now King and Priest, those symbolic things of the tabernacle were no longer imposed by God, though still practiced by the unbelievers who rejected Christ and the will of God.
He thinks he has a powerful argument and says: “The fulfillment of that system would be the parousia of Christ to consummate the atonement (Hebrews 9:28).”
Read the verse and see if you get anything out of it akin to what Don said. All of Don’s arguments here start with wild assumptions and go off in a tangent, with most of his arguments making no sense at all. He builds his arguments with such erroneous reasoning as the following:
Those typological sacrifices, washings, fleshly ordinances were still valid and obligatory when Hebrews was written (Hebrews 9:6-10; 10:1f).
Again, those things were still in play by disobedient unbelievers, not because they were doing the will of God and fulfilling “obligations” that God still placed upon them. From this error Don then concludes:
Therefore, all the commandments of the Torah had not been fulfilled when Hebrews was written.
Therefore Don’s conclusion is wrong because his premise that the Levites were still doing the will of God is wrong. They were obligated to Jesus. They neglected so great salvation, and were subject to punishment because they were not fulfilling obligations.
Reformation and Restoration The Same?
Don argues that the time of reformation in Hebrews 9:10 is speaking of the same thing as the period of the “restoration of all things” in Acts 3:19-24.
These are not identical. Reformation began when Jesus nailed the old Law to the cross, changed the Law and provided a better priesthood, sacrifice, and covenant. The restoration of all things is when Satan is cast forever into the lake of fire and man and God are restored to full glorified togetherness forever (Rev.20-22). Based on this error Don concludes:
If the time of the reformation has not come, the Mosaic Law is still imposed.
But, Don, the time of reformation did come when Jesus changed the Law and offered a better priesthood, sacrifice, and covenant. That is the whole point of Hebrews. How did you miss it?
He concludes by saying that he has taken “what Terry claims are death knell questions” and presented the harmony with his paradigm and established it to be true.
Did Don Really Even Answer The Three Basic Questions?
I will give Don credit that he did put a lot of words down on paper, but I tried to summarize his answers and it became obvious that he sidestepped even the three questions. Here are the questions, a summary of Don’s answer, and a reply:
1) How long is man obligated to keep ALL the Law including its types and shadows?
Summary of Don’s Answer: Till every promise was fulfilled in AD 70.
Reply: Then Peter was still under the food laws when God told him to eat unclean things in Acts 10. Further, all who are obligated to the animal sacrifices and Levitical priesthood cannot be also obligated to the Priesthood of Christ. All who are obligated to Jesus and His Priesthood cannot be obligated by God to continue to keep all the types and shadows of the Law of Moses.
2) What kind of promises can God make, and do they all have to be fulfilled within the same time-frame as man’s obligation to the Law of Moses?
Summary of Don’s Answer: There was no answer as to the “kind” of promise God can make, but all promises were herded into a stall called “all eschatological promises of the end of the age”, and a release from “obligation” to the Law of Moses is allowed for some people by means of the cross (even before all promises were fulfilled) but others remained obligated to the Law of Moses.
Reply: I do not need to get into an eschatological and end-of-age discussion. I will simply point out that Don cannot be consistent. He has allowed people to “pass from under obligation to the Law 30-40 years before all the “eschatological promises” and his “end of the age” took place. Further, he has allowed Jesus to be Priest and King (thus “changing the Law” –Heb.7:12) 30-40 years before all the “eschatological promises” and his “end of the age” took place. While he struggles to keep “obligation” to the Law alive for 40 more years, his verbiage only clouds the PROPOSITION. If any “obligations” changed for some, then ALL were obligated to die to the Law in the same way and live under their obligation to Jesus as king and priest. ALL were obligated to Jesus and not Moses 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. If the law was “nailed to the cross” and the “handwriting of requirements” ceased to be binding upon ONE Jew, then ALL Jews were so obligated to Jesus. They could not please God no matter how many more sacrifices they offered. God was not obligating them to one law (the old) and not to Jesus. As Don admitted, God was not obligating them to two laws at one time. The fact is that the Jews were shirking their responsibilities to God and Jesus as they continued their empty rituals and sacrifices till their destructive end in AD 70. Don has one of three choices before him:
1) All Jews were totally obligated to two laws and two lawgivers with two different priesthoods at the same time for 40 years.
2) Some Jews were totally obligated to Jesus alone while other Jews were obligated totally to the Law of Moses for 40 years.
3) All Jews and Gentiles are totally obligated to Jesus, and have been since His new covenant came into effect (long before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Don’s answer to question #2 above does not solve the dilemma he is in. He has agreed that all promises had to be fulfilled before “obligation” to the Law could cease. Yet, he has Jesus changing the law and priesthood and giving a new covenant before all promises were fulfilled. He even finds a way for people to “pass from under the law” without it all first being fulfilled. This does not help some of his arguments on Matthew 5:17f. Arguments on “eschatology” and “end of the age” events does not solve his dilemma at all.
3)Are all of God’s promises and predictions, though recorded in the Old Testament records, automatically tied to the Law of Moses so that God could not relaease man from his obligations before God has fulfilled every promise and prediction on every subject?
Summary of Don’s Answer: He says his answer to question #2 also answers this one.
Reply: The essence of Don’s answer is that God could not release man from his obligations even at the cross until God fulfilled every promise and prediction on every subject. Don has failed to directly answer the question because he knows some people were released from obligation in the death of Jesus, long before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This poses a major problem with his “paradigm”. He has some people out from under obligation to the Law of Moses before all the promises were fulfilled. This gives him the same dilemma he thinks my position has with Matthew 5:17. Thus, the answer to the question from Don’s standpoint would be: God could release SOME people from their obligation to the Law of Moses before God has fulfilled every promise and prediction found in the Old Testament. Remember this point because it is powerful against the arguments Don has posed so far. It pokes a big hole in the entire premise of Don’s proposition. He will not be able to sustain his major premises, and therefore his proposition will not be sustained. But, additionally, it will expose some major flaws in his entire eschatological theories.
Other Major Questions Ignored
Not only did Don put himself in a very awkward position with his answers to the three questions above, but he failed to sustain his position, and it became all the more evident when we listed the questions he totally ignored. Here they are again in case the reader forgot to notice. In my first negative I asked Don:
Was or is it possible to introduce and ratify a new covenant before the old was terminated? When did the New Covenant come into effect?
1. Since all Jews remained obligated to keep all sacrifices and the rite of circumcision until AD 70 (according to your theory), what law did they come under after AD 70?
2. Was Paul, and the other apostles, obligated to Jesus as priest AND the Levitical priesthood at the same time before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70?
3. If they were obligated to keep the Law’s required sacrifices, then were they also obligated to reject the offering of Jesus?
4. Are all Jews obligated to Jesus Christ? When did they become obligated, or when did they cease to be obligated to Him?
5. Will all Jews before and after the destruction of Jerusalem be judged by the words of Jesus?
6. If the Jews were obligated to Jesus at all, then were they therefore obligated to Jesus in every way, including submission to His “all authority”?
7. When did Jesus have all authority in heaven and on earth given to Him?
WHO released SOME from obligation to the ENTIRE Old Testament before and without it ALL being fulfilled?
WHO may have “perhaps” released Christian Jews from obligation to the ENTIRE Old Testament before and without it ALL being fulfilled?
If there was a way for the law to cease to be binding on even one Jew before it was “all fulfilled”(per Don’s argument), then there is a way for God to cancel its obligations altogether at the cross. If not, why not?
But, when has the Law ever NOT stood valid? Did it cease to be valid in AD 70? Doesn’t it still stand valid now? What do you mean by this, Don?
Did some commandments pass from the Law for some Jews (namely some Christian Jews)? Could Jesus be a priest and change the Law (Heb.7:12) before AD 70?
Were the commandments or “handwriting of requirements” (obligations on man’s part) not fulfilled in Jesus? Could He not then “take them out of the way” and “nail them to His cross” without the Law “passing”? In what way could Paul “no longer be under the law” without the law “passing”? If the law did not pass, yet a Jew could no longer be under it, then there was a way for obligation to the Law to cease even before all of God’s own obligations to His predictions would cease. If not, why not?
By fault of assuming too much, we have called upon Don to:
1) Prove that the Law ever “passed away” even in AD 70
2) Prove that obligation to “the handwriting of ordinances” could not be cancelled at the cross AND that they were cancelled in AD 70.
3) Prove that man’s obligations cannot be cancelled until every sort of promise God ever made, as recorded in the entire Old Testament records, is fulfilled.
Don did not prove his proposition because:
1) There was a change of the Law and priesthood BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem. Heb.7:11f
2) Jews were “no longer under the Law”(Gal.3:23-25) BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem.
3) No one can judge us by issues of the law (Col.2:13-17) because these were “nailed to the cross” and this BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem.
4) Jews could be “complete in Christ” BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem (Col.2:10) and that without keeping the shadows of the Law.
5) The Handwriting of requirements was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem (Col.2:14)
6) The Law of Commandments were “abolished in His flesh” (Eph.2:15) BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
7) People could legitimately become “dead to the Law” through the body of Christ (Rom.7:4) long BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem.
8) People could be free from Moses and married to Christ long before the destruction of Jerusalem.
So, in closing, I caution Don to look again. Did you really “prove your proposition”? I caution the reader to keep coming back to these issues and seeing if Don truly addresses all of these matters. It will be impossible for him to prove his proposition when ignoring so many verses that fly in the face of his arguments.
The proposition Don affirms is: Obligation to keep the Law ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Not one verse that he offered says or implies anything about obligation to the Law ending in AD 70. Hopefully we can see some proof brought to the table in his next and final affirmative.
Terry W. Benton