Joel McDurmon’s “Last” Hermeneutic

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In my recent debate with Joel McDurmon (July 19-21, 2012) of American Vision, I took note that Paul’s doctrine of the end of the millennium resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 would be the fulfillment of Isaiah 24-25 and the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel.

In my first affirmative presentation I presented this undeniable fact. I also noted the following facts:
1.) Isaiah 25:6 foretold the Messianic Banquet on “Zion.”
2.) I noted that the resurrection of Isaiah 25:8–the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15– would likewise be on “Zion”; “on this mountain He shall destroy death…”
3.) I noted that both v. 6 and v. 8 are posited at the same time– “in the day.” Verse 8 points directly back to v. 6 and posits it, as well as the resurrection, “in that day.”
4.) These facts demonstrate the inseparable connection between the Messianic Banquet and the end of the millennium resurrection. Both would be “on this mountain”; both would be “in that day.”
5.) I noted that in Matthew 8:11, Jesus foretold the Messianic Banquet, thus the resurrection, and said it would be fulfilled when “the sons of the kingdom are cast out.”
6.) I noted, from Joel McDumon’s writings, that Abraham sat down at the Messianic Banquet in AD 70 when Old Covenant Israel was cast out.
7.) I then noted, again from Joel’s own writings, that he believes that all the prophecies concerning “Zion” have been “spiritualized” and “fulfilled in Christ.”

What was Joel’s response to this presentation? Almost his entire “rebuttal” was saying that he did not see the word “final” in either Isaiah, Matthew 8, or even in 1 Corinthians 15! Since the word “final”, or “final resurrection” is not there, then it is misguided to say that they predicted the end of the millennium resurrection.

That is right. Because the word “final” is not in these texts, then they can’t be speaking of the “final” resurrection. (Of course, as I noted, Joel believes that 1 Corinthians 15 predicts the “final” resurrection, even though the word “final” is not found in the chapter! When pressed to show how and why 1 Corinthians 15 is the “final” resurrection, since the word “final” is not there, Joel was silent. But this was only one of his many self-contradictions).

On the following night, I presented a chart, entitled, “Joel’s ‘Last’ Hermeneutic” demonstrating the utter fallacy of his argument. What Joel was saying is that if given words are absent in a text, then the subject cannot be in that text. In other words, if Revelation 20 uses a given set of words, and if 1 Corinthians 15 omits some of the words utilized by Revelation 20, (or uses different words from those in Revelation) then 1 Corinthians 15 must be speaking of a different event from that in Revelation 20. I gave the following illustrations (in a chart) that demonstrate Joel’s total inconsistency.

Joel Distinguishes Between Texts (and subjects, DKP) Because of the Use of Different Words, or the Omission of Words, i.e. “Final Is Not There!”
Consider the Following, However…
Acts 1 Does Not Mention the “Final” Time of the End, The Trumpet, the resurrection, or use the word “parousia” – Like 1 Cor. 15 does
1 Corinthians 15 does not mention the 1000 yrs, “final end”, coming with the angels, opening of the books, the Book of Life of Rev. 20
1 Thessalonians 4 says not one word about the millennium, the passing of earth and heaven of Revelation 20- the “final end!”
Revelation 20:10-12 Does Not Mention the parousia with the angels, the trumpet, the shout, the “final” end of time!
Yet, Joel says all of these texts are the same!
Different Elements– Or Omission of Elements / Words– Does Not Demand Different Times or Topics in Apocalyptic literature!

I made the remark that one cannot “screw down” apocalyptic language in the manner that Joel was doing, by claiming that the omission of words from text to text, or even the use of different words demands that different subjects are in view. This is true not only of apocalyptic literature, but of all literature. It is unreasonable in the extreme to demand that a writer mention every word, every element, every motif of a given subject in every text that he writes. You will not find such a “hermeneutic” in any class on hermeneutic or on journalism. It is specious.

Amazingly, Joel got up and said that he believed precisely what I had argued in my chart! He said that you cannot, indeed, “screw down” apocalyptic language, and claimed that I was one guilty of doing precisely what I said could not be done.

I must admit to being somewhat stunned at the overtly disingenuous nature of Joel’s response since he was clearly the one demanding such a strictly, “screwed down” use of language. And, not surprisingly, Joel revealed his own self contradiction very shortly.

One of Joel’s key arguments was the “there is no marrying or giving in marriage” in the “age to come” i.e. the age of the resurrection (Matthew 22/ Luke 20). He noted that Preston is married. Therefore, Preston contradicts his own doctrine and denies what Jesus said about the age to come.

In response, I noted first of all that in his (excellent) book, Jesus V Jerusalem, that Joel is emphatic that Jesus’ “this age” was the Mosaic Age, and that his “age to come” was the Christian age in which we now live! That is right! Do not miss the power of this!

Joel McDurmon himself identifies “the age to come,” that Jesus said is the age in which there is no marrying or giving in marriage, as the present Christian age!

It clearly stunned Joel when I demonstrated to the audience that he so badly contradicted himself, and that his own comments nullified his “argument.” His only attempt to counter this huge self contradiction was to claim that Jesus was not emphasizing the ages.

Of course, this is patently false, since Jesus said “the children of this age…” and contrasted that with “the age to come.” Joel was grasping at straws. (It is also interesting that one “reviewer” of the debate, claimed that my appeal to Jesus’ contrast of “this age” and “the age to come” was “irrelevant.” Such a claim powerfully illustrates how desperate and illogical people can become when they abandon the Truth. Jesus’ contrast of ages is critical to proper exegesis and understanding of the resurrection. If the contrast of ages is “irrelevant” then the contrasting conditions of those contrastive ages is likewise “irrelevant”).

As further rejoinder, I took note that in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul was dealing with those who, cognizant that the “age to come” had broken in, and that they were part of the New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) were asking if they were to remain married. Paul told them that they were not to get divorced, not to separate, but rather, it was good to be married. I also noted that in Galatians 3:26f, Paul said that they were children of God by faith, and that in Christ, “there is neither male or female,” thus negating “marrying or giving in marriage” in that spiritual relationship. Joel essentially ignored the argument.

Joel then simply repeated his “no marrying or giving in marriage” argument, ignoring again my emphasis on his admission that Jesus’ “this age” was the Mosaic age and Jesus’ “age to come” is the current Christian age. To any observant, objective listener, it was clear that Joel had impaled himself on his own theology, and the only way to deal with it was simply to repeat his argument without dealing with the self-contradiction.

I once again took note of the situation in 1 Corinthians 7, although Joel had initially ignored it. He finally responded however, and this is where his “last hermeneutic” came into play once again.

Finally, Joel responded to my comments on 1 Corinthians 7. What did he say? He said that the term “new creation” is not found in 1 Corinthians 7, therefore, Paul did not have the new creation in mind! So, per Joel, if a given word, or term is not found in a text, then the doctrine is not in the text!

So, here is what happened. Joel rejected my arguments based on Isaiah 24-25, Matthew 8, 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20, because none of these texts use the word “final.” However, when I noted that this is an unrealistic, un-Biblical hermeneutic, and abuse of apocalyptic language, Joel said that he agreed 100% with this. Then, however, to escape the force of my argument– and his own admissions– Joel rejected the hermeneutic that he said was valid, claiming, once again, that since Paul did not use a specific word, then he could not have had the doctrine of the new creation in mind.

Some years ago, I coined a “Latin” term: argumentum ad desperatum (argument from desperation) as a somewhat humorous description of the desperation of my debate opponents. I had begun to encounter such unknown, such wild, such unprecedented and self-contradictory arguments from my debate opponents that I could not think of a better way to describe what I was hearing. And this is precisely what was manifested by Joel McDurmon.

On the one hand, Isaiah 25, Matthew 8, and even 1 Corinthians 15 cannot be speaking of the “final” resurrection because the word “final” is not found in those texts. However, remember, as I noted repeatedly in the debate, even though the word “final” is not found in 1 Corinthians 15 or Revelation 20, Joel nonetheless says they do refer to the “final” resurrection. See the inconsistency?

On the other hand, Joel claimed that he agreed with my chart showing the utter fallacy of dichotomizing texts based on the use of different words or omission of words. Oh, but wait!

When entrapped by the admission of the validity of my hermeneutical argument, he then reverted to his argument that if a given word is absent from a text, that the doctrine is not there. In other words, he reverted to what he had admitted was a false hermeneutic!

There is no escaping the inherent, major, self contradiction in Joel’s “last” hermeneutic. You simply cannot, logically, argue that the omission of a given word demands the absence of a doctrine, then turn around and say that the omission of words or use of different words does not demand different topics, and then, turn around again, and say that because a specific word is not in a text, that it cannot be speaking of a given subject.

A final note here. Joel’s hermeneutic is common among postmillennial Dominionists. Kenneth Gentry appeals to this misguided hermeneutic repeatedly to justify many of his views. Gary DeMar, Keith Mathison and other postmillennialists do the same. In my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings, I have an extensive discussion of this practice and I reveal it for what it is: a fundamentally false hermeneutic. There is no justification, no warrant, no validity to Joel’s (or Gentry’s, or DeMar’s, or Jordan’s, or Mathison’s, or whoever’s, “last” hermeneutic. It is patently false.

While McDurmon’s inconsistent and self-contradictory “last” hermeneutic demonstrated the fallacy of his eschatology, it was in fact, but one of many major– and fatal– blunders on his part. We will examine some of those in ensuing articles.

The DVDs and MP3s of the debate will be available, if all goes well, in a very short time. Be watching for an announcement.