Joel McDurmon on Matthew 5:17-18- #2
What Does “Fulfill” Mean?
Don K. Preston D. Div.
In my debate with Joel McDurmon, of American Vision, which was held in Ardmore, Ok. July 19-21, 2012, I repeatedly appealed to Jesus’ emphatic words in Matthew 5:17-18. The Lord said that not one jot or one tittle of Torah– the Law of Moses– would pass until it was all fulfilled.
McDurmon and all postmillennialists and Dominionists find themselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Matthew 5:17-18 serves as one of, if not the key, foundational supports for their Dominion Theology. And yet, as David Chilton noted in 1997, in Oklahoma City, at a prophecy conference that I helped organize, Matthew 5 actually destroys Dominion Theology! It does not support it! (DVDs and MP3s of that conference are available from me here).
Notice how critical it is for the Dominionist to have the Law of Moses still in effect. Gary North, McDurmon’s father in law, wrote concerning Deuteronomy 8: “This passage in Deuteronomy presents the biblical basis of progress in history.” He then added, “Any attempt to renounce this passage as no longer judicially binding in the New Covenant era is inescapably a denial of any biblical basis for God honoring cultural progress in history.” (Gary North, Millennialism and Social Theory, Tyler, Tx., Institute For Christian Economics, 1990)52f).
So, per Gary North, one of the key financial supporters of the entire Dominionist Movement, says Deuteronomy 8 remains “judicially binding in the New Covenant era.”
Do you see what has happened here? North, and all Dominionists who agree with him, imposes the Law of Moses onto the New Covenant. They put new cloth onto old skins, contra Jesus’ emphatic declaration that this is impermissible and wrong, in Mark 2.
Furthermore, as was evidenced by McDurmon in our debate, Dominionists have not a shred of justification for arguing against the imposition of the Sabbath as well as all of the feast days, and sacrifices of the Law of Moses.
Joel argued that the seventh day Sabbath has been done away, as well as the sacrifices and feast days. I repeatedly challenged him to show how those things, which were fundamentally a part of the Law of Moses, could be removed, while the rest of the Law and the prophets remain valid? He never answered this. Be sure to read my article on the Sabbath issue and how critical it is.
Joel’s key attempt at dealing with Matthew 5 was his claim that in his person, Jesus fulfilled all things at the cross. He is the fulfillment of all things, Joel claimed. This is, in truth, nothing but sophistry.
I responded that the cross is without any doubt, the foundation and power leading to the fulfillment of all things, but, that the linguistics of Matthew 5:18 forbid Joel’s application. I noted that in Matthew 5:18 the word for fulfilled “until it is all fulfilled” is genetai. As Nolland, in the New International Greek Testament Commentary says of genetai: “The clause remains difficult, but it seems most likely to be concerned to guarantee a permanence to the Law until such time as every item on the Law’s agenda has been achieved. Until all that it lays out as God’s will for humankind has been accomplished.” (page 220)– “until it has all happened.” (John Nolland, New International Greek Testament Commentary, Matthew, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Paternoster, 2005) 221). This is the consensus of scholarship on genetai.
I noted in the debate that Bahnsen concurs that genetai demands the meaning of fully accomplish. More importantly, the NT use of genetai does not mean to “give the full meaning of” as some are spuriously now claiming. And, genetai does not mean fulfilled in some mystical, potential sense. It means to bring to reality, to fully accomplish. But not if Joel is right! If McDurmon is correct, the resurrection of the dead does not need to take place or actually occur because Jesus is the resurrection!
Note a few of the NT usages that I offered in the debate– but they were ignored:
Matthew 24:34- “This generation shall be no means pass until all of these things are fulfilled (genetai). Now, Joel does not believe that Jesus fully accomplished all of the events of Matthew 24 at the cross. He is on record that all of the things foretold in Matthew 24– all of which were post-Cross events– took place, came to pass, occurred, were fully accomplished, not at the Cross, but in the events leading up to and consummating in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
1 Corinthians 15:54– “Then shall be brought to pass (genetai) the saying” i.e. the resurrection. I noted that if Joel was correct, then the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled– fully accomplished, at the cross.
2 Timothy 2:18– Hymenaeus argued that “the resurrection is past” (genetai). This is where it got particularly difficult for Joel.
I argued that if Joel was correct, that all things were “fulfilled” (genetai’ed) at the cross, then Paul could not condemn Hymenaeus because he was simply saying what Joel was saying! Joel says all things, including the resurrection were “fulfilled” (genetai) at the cross. Hymenaeus said the resurrection was already past (genetai). Joel never said one word about this argument, for it is clearly an utter refutation of his argument.
Do you catch the power of this?
Joel could not– and cannot– deny that genetai means fully accomplish, bring to reality, in Matthew 5, and argue that Jesus fulfilled all things at the cross, without thereby implying that Hymenaeus was right after all! For all Joel knows, Hymenaeus was arguing precisely what Joel argued in our debate! But of course, if Hymenaeus was arguing what Joel did, then Paul rejected that position as dangerous.
Revelation 1:1 – “Things which must shortly come to pass.”
Revelation 1:19 – “Things which shall come to be hereafter.”
Revelation 12:10 – “Now is come salvation.
Revelation 22:6– things which must shortly be done.”
Now, in none of the passages does Joel agree that they came to pass, were fully accomplished at the cross. That is a nonsensical, un-Biblical position. The predicted events had not yet taken place. They had not been “genetai’ed.” Yet, due to his presuppositional theology, Joel had to deny the proper definition of genetai in Matthew 5, while affirming it in all other texts. This is clearly untenable.
So, Jesus’ emphatic and undeniable words in Matthew 5:17-18 were and are fatal to McDurmon’s Dominionism. Jesus said not one iota of the Law of Moses would pass away until it was all fully accomplished. The Law of Moses foretold the eschatological consummation. Therefore, until the eschatological consummation, not one single iota of Torah– inclusive of the New Moons, Feast Days and Sabbaths– would pass. For Joel to affirm a futurist eschatology therefore, demands the re-imposition of the entire sacrificial cultus of the Mosaic Law. This is inescapably, irrefutably true.
Be sure to read my book The End of the Law: From Torah to Telos for more on Matthew 5:17-18, and get a DVD or MP3 or the McDurmon -V- Preston Debate.
In our next article we will examine how McDurmon argued that some of the Law passed while some remains, and, how supposedly “the ministration of the law” passed, but that the Law remains valid.