First of all, let me apologize for the delay in posting this. I had to be “off the grid” for several days due to the death of my oldest sister, other serious health concerns about my wife– thankfully, as it turns out– she is okay, and other pressing issues. But, finally, I am able to post this.
My Response to Sam Frost’s Analysis of of Our Formal Debate
As promised I want now to offer my own analysis of the May, 2020 three night radio debate between myself and former preterist Sam Frost. Mr. Frost champions himself as the final and definitive answer to what he now calls the “heresy” of Covenant Eschatology. After the debate, Frost offered a four point analysis of the debate. I responded to each of his four points in four articles also posted here on this website. See my four point response to Frost’s points: #1 #2 #3 #4
What was so stunning – and revealing – about Mr. Frost’s “analysis” is that he seemed to actually be proud of the fact that he did not make any in-depth Biblical arguments! He made some “passing”comments on a few texts, but not one time did he offer an in-depth analysis of any passage. He prided himself for pointing out that, “Preston stands opposed to 2000 years of church history”, and, “You can go into any church today, and when they talk about ‘death,’ ‘grave,’ ‘resurrection,’ you know what they mean. But Preston redefines all those things!” (Frost ever so conveniently failed to tell his readers that his own view of Biblical death, i.e. that the Bible only knows of one kind of death and that is physical) would not be understood or accepted in all of those same churches! He stands virtually alone in the entirety of church history on this issue). This was Frost’s entire framework of argumentation– if you can call it an argument!
In stark contrast to Frost’s total failure to make a single exegetical argument, I presented an array of actual exegetical arguments, careful, textually based, logical arguments.
My first affirmative focused on 2 Thessalonians 1, and I noted that Paul promised the first century Thessalonian church, being persecuted by the Jews, that the Lord would give them “relief” (from anesis), “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.” Frost’s “response” was to deny that 2 Thessalonians 1 is a second coming text– in violation of 2000 years of church history- and to deny that Paul promised the Thessalonians relief of any kind from their on-going persecution at the hands of the Jews.
I noted that Frost’s position:
Rejects the 188.8.131.52% translational rendering of 2 Thessalonians 1.
Frost’s position rejects the virtually unanimous testimony of critical scholarship.
Frost’s position stands in opposition to 2000 years of church history of interpretation.
I noted that his “rendering” of anesis (relief) as some kind of mental comfort – not relief from the pressure of the persecution – stands in opposition to the lexical evidence. Anesis is relief from pressure, whatever kind of pressure is in the context. In the context of 2 Thessalonians 1, that pressure was persecution. See my book, IIn Flaming Fire, for a detailed linguistic analysis.
Be sure to read my first response to see the extent of my additional argumentation, all of which was ignored by Frost.
In my second affirmative I argued from Hebrews 9:28-10:37, taking note of the emphatic language of the passages. All Frost could do was to literally scoff at what the inspired writer said in Hebrews 10:37: “And now in a very, very little while the one who is coming will come and will not delay.”
In the cross-examination I addressed Frost’s belief that the Bible knows of only one kind of death, and that is physical death. I called attention to John 8:51, “If a man believes in me and keeps my commandments, he shall never die.” I called attention to the indisputable fact that there has been, always will be, a 100% physical mortality rate among humans. Thus, given Frost’s definition of “death” as exclusively physical death, this proves that no one has ever believed in him! I got no response.
I exegetically developed – at least three times– Isaiah 25-27, showing that the resurrection was to be:
At the time of the vindication of the martyrs – which Jesus posited for his generation– ignored.
That it was to be at the time of the destruction of Leviathan / Satan, which Paul emphatically declared was at hand in Romans 16:20– Ignored. Well, he did scoff at my appeal to a time statement!
That event was to be when the fortified city was destroyed, the altar of the temple crushed, and when the people whom the Lord had created would no longer be shown mercy (Isaiah 27:10f). I noted, again three times, that this was to be in fulfillment of the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32) a prophecy of Israel’s last days, not the end of the Christian age, not the end of time. Frost offered not a syllable, not a word, not a comment in response. Well, he did repeat his claim that I just impose my framework onto the text, but, I challenged him to show where I was inventing a false framework or imposing any external concept onto the text. I got no response.
Frost continually misrepresented me, something he does with increasing frequency.
He claimed that I deny any resurrection today. This is flagrantly and willinngly false. Now, Ed Stevens is on record as denying any resurrection today, but, that doctrine demands universalism. After all, if there is no resurrection, there is no death (of ANY KIND). If there is no death, there is no sin, since “the wages of sin is death” (Romans6:23). If there is no sin and no death then all are alive and need no resurrection– ie. Universalism. But that is Ed Steven’s problem, which I have pointed out in our debate but which he has ignored, naturally.
Nonetheless, I believe, as Frost well knows, that there is still sin outside of Christ, meaning that there is still the need for forgiveness and resurrection from that sin death. Thus, his accusation was a willful falsification of my views with the intended purpose of poisoning the well. Keep in mind that while I do deny a yet future, bodily, physical resurrection at the end of the Christian age, this is not what Frost was saying. He gave no “qualifications” in his claim that I do not believe in resurrection. He simply stated that Preston does not believe in resurrection today. This is nothing but a dishonorable debater’s trick, a willful, false fabrication and misrepresentation of my position. It is unworthy of Christian dialogue– but of course – Frost repeatedly says that preterists are not Christians so I supposed that he therefore believes it is okay to misrepresent what we say!
Frost claimed that I ignore the fact that in Isaiah 25, the prophet spoke of “the veil” that was “over all the nations” which supposedly falsifies my position. That is a (another) blatant misrepresentation as I noted twice during the debate. Yet, Frost simply repeated that false claim. I noted that the curse / veil was the Adamic Death that was to be destroyed, and I proceeded to show that it was to be destroyed when the city and temple were turned over to strangers (25:1-3), and when the city, the temple and the people whom the Lord had created would be destroyed (27:10f). Frost said not a word in response to these emphatic, explicit and undeniable arguments based directly on the text.
Frost claimed that I have changed my position on the identity of “Satan.” The truth is that I pointed out in the debate that the word “Satan” means adversary, and I noted that it could refer to a spirit being, OR, to anything or anyone that became God’s adversary. Frost tried to claim (falsely) that I now deny the reality of Satan (ever) as a spirit being. Now, as I pointed out and I challenged Frost to respond, but he refused, when Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan”, he was not saying that Peter was the spirit being Satan. Frost refused to answer.
I likewise pointed out that in Revelation the great Satan, the great persecuting adversary, was Babylon, the city where the Lord was crucified, and that it was that adversary, that persecutor, that was to be destroyed at the end of Revelation. Again, nothing but ridicule and scoffing from Frost. What is more sad is that Frost and his minions are continuing to totally misrepresent my views on Satan, claiming, as Frost did in the debate, that my view demands that OC Israel was in the Garden of Eden. No, my focus in the debate was to show that in Revelation Satan is defined and described as OC Israel, the persecutor. That is NOT to posit that OC Israel was Satan in the Garden. This is just more of Frost’s willful and flagrant misrepresentations of what I believe. But, since he can’t make an exegetical argument, misrepresentations are all he has.
Frost knowingly misrepresented me by claiming that I deny that Jesus ascended bodily. Make no mistake, Frost knows this is not true, as I have expounded on it in countless FaceBook exchanges. What I deny is that Jesus’ post-resurrection / pre-ascension body was his glorified, immortal body. It was the self-same, mortal body that went into the tomb! (When I have challenged Frost to bring forth proof that Jesus’ post-resurrection / pre-ascension body was his glorified, immortal, incorruptible body, he has gone stone silent.
Frost appealed to Matthew 24:36 in a misguided attempt to negate time statements. His “argument” was that since Jesus’ said, “no man knows the day or hour” that this somehow negates all of the epistolary testimony of the imminence of the Lord’s coming and the time of the end. In response, I argued that after Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 24:36, the Spirit was sent to the apostles by the Father- who knew the day and the hour of the parousia– to reveal to them, “these things must shortly come to pass… the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:1-3– among a host of other passages). Frost offered not a word of response, except to scoff at any appeal to time statements.
Frost argued that:
The Pharisees believed in physical resurrection.
Paul said he was a Pharisee.
Therefore, Paul believed in physical resurrection.
Now, this is one of the most common objections against the full preterist doctrine. I once accepted this as a valid argument, until I actually looked at the evidence – and there is an abundance of evidence! (I have just finished a book, Paul on Trial: Paul, the Pharisees and the Resurrection. In this work I show-with a wealth of powerful evidence – that in reality, while it does seem, at first glance, like Paul did agree with the Pharisees, this turns out to definitely not be the case! My new book will be available within a month or even sooner.
In the debate, I responded that the Pharisees also believed in the following:
Nationalistic restoration of all twelve tribes. (This was part and parcel of their concept of physical resurrection). I asked if Frost accepted this doctrine. No response.
The restoration of a purified Levitical priesthood. (This too was part and parcel of their concept of physical resurrection). I asked if Frost accepted this doctrine. No response.
They believed in the restoration of a purified temple cultus, with animal sacrifices. (This was part and parcel of their concept of physical resurrection). I asked if Frost accepted this doctrine. No response.
The undeniable fact, supported by scholars such as N. T. Wright, Hayes, Mbuvi, McKnight (all of which I document in my new book) is that the Pharisees’ doctrine of resurrection was absolutely bound up– inseparably so- with their hope of nationalistic, Theocratic, political and militaristic restoration of the kingdom! They did not have a resurrection hope divorced from their nationalistic hope! When I asked Frost if that was Paul’s hope, or if that is his own personal hope, he uttered not a syllable.
Over and over, Frost repeated his mantra, “Every one knows what death is. Everyone knows what graves are. Everyone knows what body means. Every one knows what dust is. Etc., etc.” Of course, this argumentum ad populum (argument from the majority) has no evidentiary, or probative value. It has no apologetic value. It has not polemic substance. It literally proves nothing, and yet, it is the one argument that Frost repeated over and over and over again, all the while refusing to engage in Biblical exegesis and argumentation.
And of course, it can be noted that when Luther was on trial, Yohanne Eck and Prince Charles both argued (to paraphrase): “If Luther is right, then a 1000 years and more of church history is wrong! If this one man is true, all of the creeds and councils have been wrong!” Evidently, Frost would side with them and condemn Luther! After all, Luther stood opposed to what “everyone” knew to be the truth, right?
I could go on and on.
I could share how Frost literally had to change the words of the inspired text to avoid their power, i.e. in regard to Hosea 13:1-2, changing the text from a discussion of the nation, to a discussion of just a few folks in the nation.
I could note how I argued from Ezekiel 37 showing how the resurrection was to be when all twelve tribes of Israel would be restored to “the land” under the Messiah, when the New Covenant would be established through the miraculous work of the Spirit. This means that if Christ is ruling now, under the New Covenant, the resurrection is fulfilled. Frost said not a word in response.
I could show how I proved, from the text of Philippians 3, that the resurrection was already “in process” which utterly falsifies Frost’s claims about physical resurrection. Frost said not a word in response.
I could show that on the third day, a Q and A session, I pointed out how in Luke 21:22 Jesus unequivocally said that in days of fall of Jerusalem that all things written would be fulfilled. Totally ignored.
I could show how, in total falsification of Frost’s claim that no NT text speaks of the imminence of the resurrection, that 1 Peter 4:5-15 affirms that very thing, emphatically and undeniably. No response from Mr. Frost.
Finally, I found it more than revealing and more than enlightening that Frost, who considers himself the “final word” against the full preterist view, and who considers himself to be able to show from 1 Corinthians 15 how preterism is false, did not go to that chapter and “camp out!” (In fact, he barely mentioned it, and then only when I brought it up!). Imagine that! Not one argument from Mr. Frost on 1 Corinthians 15! Now, if it is so easy to show that 1 Corinthians 15 destroys the preterist view, why did Frost literally ignore this great chapter, and argue instead that, “Preston stands against 2000 years of church history,” and, “Everyone knows what death, body, grave, means”?
Here was Frost’s great, public chance to refute Covenant Eschatology, by destroying it with solid, Biblical exegesis. Yet, he literally made no attempt to do so, seeming, as noted, to be proud that he made no Biblical argument! And even some futurists have made YouTube videos pointing out his utter failure- and total defeat!
Frost said he was satisfied with his “performance.” Well, if his goal was to ignore Scriptural evidence, he succeeded.
If his purpose was to misrepresent preterism, he did an admirable job!
If he entered the debate determined to ignore my Biblical arguments, he did smashingly well!
If he was intent on proving that it is he and “church history” that is in fact guilty of imposing an artificial “frame-work” onto the Biblical texts, he did so very powerfully and undeniable.
I could share other examples of Frost’s utter refusal and failure to answer my Biblical arguments and emphatic statements of the Bible, but this is more than sufficient. I highly recommend that the reader go to www.ironsharpensironradioshow.com and listen to the debate for yourself.