In my recent debate with Joel McDurmon, he offered a “response” to my comments on Luke 20 where Jesus said that in “the age to come they neither marry or are given in marriage.” Of course, McDurmon initially argued that if we are in the age to come, then since Jesus said “those counted worthy to attain that age (the age to come, DKP) neither marry or are given in marriage. So, McDurmon, like so many others who appeal to Luke, argued that if we are in the age to come then we should not marry today. I noted from Joel’s own writings that he believes Jesus’ “this age” was the Mosaic Age, and “the age to come” was the current Christian age. Be sure to get your copy of the McDurmon -V- Preston debate, in Kindle form, DVD, or in book form.
What this means of course, is that if we take Jesus’ referent to no marrying in the age to come as a woodenly literal discussion of human marriage relations generically considered, then no Christian should be getting married today! After all, we are in the “age to come” foretold by Jesus, and it is in “the age to come” in which there is no marrying or giving in marriage.
McDurmon made what may well be a historically unprecedented argument. He sought to delineate between “the age to come” and the resurrection. In other words, Jesus spoke of two distinct, separate and disparate events in Luke 20. He spoke of the coming of the age to come, and then, distinct from that, he foretold the coming of the resurrection. In Joel’s newly invented theology, what Jesus was really saying is that if you make it to the age to come, then one day, by and by there will be a resurrection, and it is in the resurrection (not in the age to come, but at the end of the age to come) where there is no marrying or giving in marriage.
I must admit that I was somewhat stunned at Joel’s “argument.” And let me be blunt: this is unmitigated nonsense, with no grammatical, contextual support. This is an argument from total desperation, invented and contrived because Joel was entrapped by his own doctrine that we are today living in the age to come foretold by Jesus. And since the text identifies our current age as the time Jesus was describing as the age to come, then given Joel’s literalistic take on the text, there should be no marrying or giving in marriage today. Joel was patently trapped. A couple of observations are in order.
First of all, as suggested, McDurmon’s argument is all but unprecedented. It is not in the creeds, period.
The Nicene Creed said—“ I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and life of the age to come.” Now, the Nicene drafters saw—in contradistinction to McDurmon—the age to come as inextricably tied to the resurrection, and they posited the age to come in the future. Without question, this is the “historical” view of the church.
I would note that McDurmon is also not only at odds with the creeds and church history, but with other Dominionists. For instance, Gentry says: “In the two age schema, all of history is “this age,” and ‘the age to come’ is eternity.” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA., Apologetics Group, 2009)468).
Here is the argument I made, utilizing McDurmon’s own position about this age and the age to come:
In the age to come, there is no marrying or giving in marriage.
But, “the age to come” is the current Christian age—McDurmon.
Therefore, there is no marrying or giving in marriage in the current Christian age.
McDurmon was clearly shaken by this argument, and so, in desperation, he offered his new and novel response that “the age to come” is not to be linked to the resurrection. It is in the resurrection where there is no marrying or giving in marriage, not in “the age to come.” He queried: “Does this pose a problem for me seeing that I do make the distinction throughout scripture between this age, spoken in that era as being the Mosaic age and to the age to come as the Christian age, if you want to call it that?” He then proceeded to claim that he really did not have a problem after all. However, anyone reading his rambling, illogical comments will know immediately that he did (and does) have a severe problem here. In fact, the problem is fatal to his eschatology.
Note that Jesus also said that those worthy to enter the age to come, cannot die, they are like the angels, and, are the sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. Watch what this means for Joel.
He says the “no marrying or giving in marriage” does not apply to “the age to come” but, to the resurrection. But, notice that Jesus said “they cannot die anymore.”
Repeatedly, in John especially, Jesus said that those who believe in him, now, as opposed to the Old Covenant system, “will never die” (John 6; 8:51; 11:25-26, etc). In other words, in the age to come, those who believe in Jesus do not die. But, the state of ‘no dying” is clearly and undeniably a result of resurrection, is it not?
Is this not what 1 Corinthians 15 teaches, and, Revelation 20-22? After all, Revelation 21:3-4 says that in the New Creation, after the resurrection “there is no more death.” So, Jesus clearly affirms that in the age to come—the Christian age, per Joel—those who believe in him will never die. And yet, the state of never dying belongs to the resurrection! Therefore, the resurrection and the age to come are tied inseparably together. You cannot divorce the state of no dying and the resurrection, since they both equate to the same thing, no dying, as well as to the age to come.
Another manifestation of Joel’s desperation was evident when I made the following observation. Joel says the time of the resurrection is when the pre-sin state of the Garden is restored. However, as I carefully noted, in the pre-sin state, Adam and Eve were married, and commanded to produce children! Do you see the problem for Joel and the Dominionists? Do you catch the power of the problem? Here is the problem for Joel’s newly invented theology.
In the resurrection the pre-sin state of man is restored (literally and physically, by the way, and this presents a huge problem for Dominionism, but that discussion will wait for later).
But, in the pre-sin state, there was marrying and conjugal relations.
Therefore, in the resurrection there is marrying and conjugal relations!
Do you see the problem Joel has created for himself? His theology creates a situation in which the very thing that he says will be restored, is actually forbidden at the very time it is ostensibly restored. To say this is troublesome and self-defeating is an understatement.
And, take note that in the debate, when I pressed this point, McDurmon gave no textual response whatsoever. He just repeated his mantra that there is no marrying or giving in marriage in the resurrection and that I have to deal with the issue! Well, I did deal with the issue, definitively and irrefutably. It was Joel who simply ignored the problems that his own theology causes.
It should be noted in closing that in Joel’s construct, not one of the three things that Jesus mentioned: no dying, no marrying, and becoming sons of God, can belong to the current Christian age (i.e. the age to come”). Those elements and tenets are all joined grammatically, and thus, there is no basis, contextually, grammatically or linguistically to divorce them. In other words, in Joel’s proposed interpretation, “the age to come” actually has nothing to do with the blessings Jesus mentioned. Per Joel, the age to come must come to an end before the blessings Jesus mentioned come into reality! Why then did Jesus even mention “the age to come” since it is totally irrelevant to the timing of the blessings?
Joel’s problem, and the problem of all of those who appeal to Luke 20 and the parallels, is that they totally ignore the covenantal contrast of the text. Jesus’ discussion of no marrying or giving in marriage is specifically and directly related to a contrast between the Old Covenant (Torah) and practices under that Kingdom, and the coming Kingdom of Messiah and the New Covenant in which the Levirate Marriage (which Jesus is referring to) was mandated. Jesus was not discussing the wider universal practice of marriage and conjugal relations. He was discussing the contrast between the two kingdoms and their nature. But, McDurmon and those like him, completely ignore this critical context.
As it turns out, the argument of “no marrying or giving in marriage” backfires, fatally, against the Postmillennial, Dominionist theology.