Olan Hicks -V- Don K. Preston Debate on the Coming of the Lord– Hicks’ Second Negative

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Olan Hicks – Second negative
The theory Don is affirming is a little slippery and not easy to examine. It is produced by a thought process that is not according to ordinary exegetical procedures. It is made unnecessarily complex by the fact that so much of its content is speculation and theory and sometimes it even changes. When Max King launched the publication of that theory he wrote a very large book entitled, “The Cross and the Parousia of Christ.” He invested over 250 pages explaining away one Bible chapter, 1 Corinthians 15. About a decade later Don Preston and Jack Scott told me that they no longer accept that theory of the resurrection and now have a different one.

As I said in my first negative essay, I am trying to simplify the whole matter. I would like ordinary folks to be able to see clearly what the issues are. My obligation in the negative is to show what is wrong with the arguments presented by the affirmative. I have done that. My way of doing that is by comparing the affirmative arguments, which in this case are interpretations and theories, with Bible statements on the point at issue. My way to disprove them is with explicit Bible statements, not with counter interpretations and opinions.

I respectfuly decline Don’s suggestion that instead I should make “arguments,” put my views into an A form syllogism. I will not do that and go into theorizing like he is. I am a follower of the Bible, not an editor of the Bible. Yes, I wrote a book on logic and I undersrtand that type of analysis. But my main thesis in the book was that aristotelian “logic” must not deplace a “Thus saith the Lord” in Biblical exegesis. I will follow his arguments, but my responses to them will continue to be to cite explicit Bible statements that are contradicted by their theory. I think it is clear that Don and I handle the scriptures differently. We agreed going in that the Bible is our measuring standard. But now it seems that in reality his measuring stick is the conclusions from his interpretation of prophecies. What he infers from them constitutes his “line of proof.”

I do not impugn anyone’s motives. I think Don believes it is right to do all that theorizing. On each point he puts forth there is too much presumptuous argumentation between what the text says and what he thinks it means. That is why he has to be so wordy. He cannot just state a point and give a passage that says it because there aren’t any that say it. You will notice as we go along that he has to take a long detour through passage after passage, assigning some strange definitions to each one, and then try to maneuver them into support of his point.
Yes, we should consider all scriptures and try to harmonize them. But explicit Bible statements do not need a jillion words of interpretation. I want us to look the AD70 doctrine straight in the face in comparison with clear Bible passages. Don can do the speculation bit if he wants to but I will continue to rely on what the Bible says clearly. There is too much “explaining” between the scripture text and hius conclusion. I think Don does not realize that when he refers to the scriptures I quote as “a crooked stick” it means the Bible is a crooked stick.

At his #1, Don opens his second affirmative by repudiating just about every accepted principle of normal exegesis. He ridicules the idea that “The Bible says what it means and means what it says.” Can you believe that? Our propositions begin with “The Bible teaches.” I am not willing to now alter that to discuss instead on the basis of syllogistic argumentation. I make no secret of the fact that for me, a clear Bible statement always trumps a human theory no matter how cleverly devised the theory may be. I am sure Don believes that his prophecy statements are clear statements, and they are, but not on the point he is trying to prove. They donot speak to that.

His #2 shows another underlying exegetical fallacy in which he is on the wrong side. He seems to be saying that a Biblical text may not mean the same thing to someone today, having a “Grecian world view,” that it meant in “Hebraic thought.” This illustrates again that with Don it is all about speculation and far reaching “interpretations.” It amounts to editing the Bible. The fact is the Bible says what it says. God sent it to all nationalities and it says the same to all. Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the word to all nations, the same word, with no changes for different cultures. What God’s word says is truth regardless of one’s “world view.”

His #3 seems to suggest that pointing out the likely consequences of a doctrine is meaningless. He calls them “red Herrings.” But the Bible often warns about what a certain mistake can lead to. For instance Paul said that the notion that the resurrection is past already would “spread like a cancer.” (2 Tim. 2:17-18)
He carries this over into #4, calling it an attempt to prejudice the mind of readers against his aguments. But the fact is any doctrine which bids to set aside Biblical directives, such as the Lord’s Supper, is wrong.

On #5, if there is any “obfuscation” here it is on Don’s part, not mine. I am very focused on the points at issue

Now with this in mind let’s look at what else he said.
#1. Don says he gave passages saying that Paul’s one eschatological hope was entirely the hope of Old Testament Israel after the flesh. That is not so. There aren’t any that say that. In the passage he quoted (Acts 24:14f Paul was making his defense before the governor against the accusation that he spoke against Israel’s religion. What Paul said was that in preaching about a resurrection he did not oppose the Jews for they also believed in that. He did not say that his one eschatalogical hope was in the OT promises to Israel after the flesh. In fact, in Romans 10:1-4 he said the opposite, that Israel had zeal but “not according to knowledge.” In another passage Don also cited, Acts 26:21f, Paul said his hope was in Christ and that it was supported by the prophecies.

On his point #2 Don said this: “I made the argument that since Torah foretold the resurrection– (Olan admitting) – this meant that until the resurrection was accomplished, not one iota of Torah could pass away.

This is a lame argument but Don seems to think it is a real foundation stone for their theory.Torah was originally the name given to the first five books of the Old Testament. It appears Don is using it to refer to the entire Old Testament. Either way his argument is the same, i.e. that Jesus indicated in Mat. 5:17 that none of the words of the Old Testament would pass away until everything spoken of there in has occurred. That is a theory and not accurate to what Jesus said. As so often is the case with AD70 theories, it creates a concept that contradicts explicit Bible statements. Jesus was stating a principle. A law is designed to remain in effect until its requirements are fulfilled. This same principle is put forth by the writer of Hebrews. “Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (8:13) So, as Hebrews 10:1 says, “The law had a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of them.” Thus Jesus said that at that time the law was still in effect and they must keep it. It is perversion to turn this into an argument with which to create a precept that the law could not “pass away” until everything it mentioned or predicted had occurred. The bottom line here is that the scriptures are explicit on the point. The Bible says, “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of of God has been preached and everyone is pressing into it.” (Luke 16:16) This is specific. John the Baptist introduced the ministry of Jesus which was leading up to His taking the position of law giver for the church. In the Mat. 5:17 passage Jesus said that while He lived on earth the law was yet to be observed. But the time for it to end was determined by God’s own decree, not by a decree that preterist theologians invented.
God appointed the time that the Mosaic law was given. It was at Mt. Sinai at the time the Israelites came out of Egypt. God appointed the time when that the law would finish its purpose and be abolished. It was at the cross. (Col. 2:14) He did not leave it to “preterist” thorizers to set that time. To the Galatians Paul wrote that those who thought that the law was still in effect had “fallen from grace.” (5:1-4) The entire book of Hebrews reiterates over and over again that when Jesus became our “high priest” the law was abrogated. “For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.” (7:12) So here again their theory produces a conclusion that contradicts explicit Bible statements. When Jesus became the head over all things to the church, the allotted time of the law of Moses ended, not at the time when everything mentioned in it has occurred.

On his Point #3 Don misunderstands my answer completely. I said that all the bushels of scripture he quotes do not say what he is supposed to prove. He says he is trying to prove that a resurrection was predicted. As I have said several times, that is not our issue. A resurrection was predicted in both Old Testament and New. But what Don is supposed to be proving is that it occurred in AD70. This he can only theorize about.
He said “Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection was based on Isaiah 25:8 and Isaiah 26:19f. I cited these very verses, showing that they foretold the resurrection at the coming of the Lord in vindication of the martyrs.”
That is wrong. Paul did not get his doctrine of the resurrection from Isaiah. He began the chapter on the resurrection by telling the Corinthians that he had delivered to them the Gospel. (1 Cor. 15:1) At verse 3 he said “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received,” and then specified the resurrection. To the Galatians Paul said, “The Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1:11-12) So just as the Old Testament prophets were given information by the Holy Spirit, even so Paul was given information by the Holy Spirit. Neither Paul nor Isaiah, in predicting the resurrection, said that it would occur in AD70. You have to do a lot of theorizing to get that out of it and that is what Don does on this point. I say again, his “proof passages” do not say it.

Don “challenges” us to produce OT prophecies that predict a physical, bodily resurrection and the ending of time. Perhaps we should refer him to Paul who said they did. Paul said, “The prophets and Moses said….that Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23) So I would ask Don a question. Did Jesus rise physically, out of the dirt? Don himself cited Isaiah as predicting the resurrection and thought I said that he did not predict that. No, what I said was that Isaiah did not say that the resurrection would occur at the AD70 event. Predictions of the resurrection is not our issue. Saying that it occurred in AD70 and therefore is past, is our issue.

A basic problem with the AD70, or “preterist” concept, is that it seems to rest on the notion that the Bible was written in code. Their idea seems to be that interpretations of prophetic writings are the key to decoding it. To understand a New Testament passage they think one must first interpret some Old Testament prophecies. So their approach to a question that is answered specifically in the Bible is not to accept the textual answer but first to “decode” it with assumptions about interpretations of prophecies as though the answer had not been given. Yes, it is right to consider all scriptures as they apply to a given point. But the problem here is that after they have “decoded” it they have it saying the opposite of what it says in the text. For instance the two angels in Acts 1:11 stated that Jesus “will come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” That is a clear enough statement. But after decoding it they reverse it and say that His second coming will not be in that manner but rather a symbollic coming in judgment on Jerusalem. That is not “the manner” in which the disciples saw Him go up. Advocates of the AD70 theory think their version of it is proven and so His second coming occurred in 70 AD.

Before we began this debate Don and I each submitted six questions. At this point I think it will be enlightening for you to look at a couple of these and the answers he gave.
My first question was “Did all who were in the graves hear His voice and come forth at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in AD70?” Would you believe it? Don answered “Yes” and cited Daniel 12:2-7. In that passage Daniel speaks of a time to come when “many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will arise.” That is not the same thing. There have been several occasions when one person was raised and occasions where several were raised. When Jesus died on the cross the scripture says that some of the saints were raised. But in the resurrection Jesus spoke of in John 5 He said that “ALL” who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.” (vs. 28-29) So with a misinterpretation of Daniel 12 Don over rules what Jesus said and says that the resurrection has already occurred. All one has to do is look at the cemetaries to see that this is not so. The dead are still in the graves. You can see with your own eyes that their theory reached a conclusion that is not true.

My second question was: “Did heaven and earth pass away at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in AD70?”
Incredibly he answered “Yes” again and cited Hebrews 12:21-28, 2 Peter 3, and Revelation 20. Here again all you have to do is look out the window to see that the heavens and earth are still here. On this they argue that it was a symbollic passing and not the passing of the actual heavens and earth. Some of them have argued that it was the passing of the age of Israel’s covenant with God. But the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:35 are in the Greek text “ouranos” and “ge.” These are words for the literal heavens and the earth, not words for the ending of an age. A strange thing, one of the passages Don cited is 2 Peter 3. In that chapter Peter gives the physical details of that event. “The heavens will pass away with a great noise. The elements will melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (3:10) But after they “decode” this passage the meaning is reversed and it is declared that such will not actually happen.

My third question was, “Did the Lord Himself descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of an arc angel at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in AD70?”
Strangely enough he answered “Yes” and cited 1 Thess 4 where Paul described that event. But again they “decode” the passage and it comes out saying that the Lord Himself did not come but the coming was symbollic.

It is truly remarkable that they can convince themselves of so many conclusions that are opposite to express statements of God. In response to my 6th question Don admitted that God appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness and said, “God did appoint that day and that day was fufilled.” He offered 1 Peter 4:5-17 as evidence. That passage says “The end of all things is at hand” (Vs.7) and “The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” (Vs. 17) A strange thing, Don thinks that judgment on Jerusalem in AD70 was judgment on the world and makes the same mistake here, thinking that a judgment beginning at the house of God is the judgment of the world that Jesus and Paul spoke of. Even though the details of the final day of judgment are clearly specified in scripture, Don thinks that the judgments of God in local situations are that day of judgment. I notice he stopped short of reading verse 19, “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful, creator.” This would clarify Peter’s meaning that God’s people are sometimes disciplined by God in physical things in this life but we must commit our souls to Him in living righteously from day to day. The bottom line is that this passage does not refer to an appointed day of judgment upon the world. It takes too much “decoding” to make this the final day of judgment as it is described in the words of Jesus in John 5:28-29 and in Revelation 20:12 and elsewhere.

Don also calls attention to words in a text that mean imminent or soon to happen. But these are all relative terms. None of them specify an exact length of time. How long does the phrase “ready to judge” mean? Again here the Bible is specific in explaning this. Peter says that the delay in the Lord’s return does not mean that He is “slack concerning His promises.” (2 Peter 3) He is going to come back. The delay means that he is not willing that any should perish so He waits for them to “come to repentance.” That is why the final day is delayed. Don not only rejects Peter’s explanation of it, he rejects the fact that such a delay even exists. He thinks the “imminency” passages do not allow for that delay so he just declares that that say has happened in the past. This is another clear case where human rationalization produces a conclusion contrary to specific statements of God.

Don argues a lot about “the vindication of the blood of the martyrs.” This is another attempt to say that the scriptures imply that this was something appointed to happen in AD70. But the fact is God has often brought vengeance on people who mistreated His people. The various nations in Canaan are an example. God gave them into the hands of the Israelites because of their evil practices, including fighting against His people. Besides, the fact that what happened to Jerusalem in AD70 was vengeance from God is not disputed anyway. What we are supposed to be discussing is the question of whether or not the second coming of Christ occurred at that time and also did the resurrection of the dead occur then. So proving that part of the reason for the vengeance being applied there was the killing of martyrs does not prove anything as far as our proposition is concerned.

Answer to his arguments from Daniel’s prophecies.
A primary fallacy in Don’s argumentation is that he does not recognize the plural nature of many Biblical events. He thinks that proving a symbollic “coming” of Christ in AD70 proves that it was His second and final coming. Where the Bible speaks of many Don often sees only one. There were many times when God allowed His people to be overcome by enemies, not just one. There were many occasions when people were resurrected from the dead, not just one. There were many times when God enacted a vengeance on Israel for killing the prophets, not just one. And most important, the scriptures speak of more than one “coming” or presence of Christ. There were symbollic “comings” which are not the same as His literal coming. His presence with the Israelites in the wilderness was a symbollic coming. His presence with the apostles when they were brought before tribunals was another, and His symbollic “coming” in the Jerusalem calamity of AD70 was another. But the Bible also speaks of physical comings in person by “the Lord Himself.” (1 Thess. 4) It is a mistake to try to make any one of the symbollic comings out to be the predicted “second coming” of Hebrews 9:28. Therefore all the 2,000 words of argumentation from Daniel 12 is not proof of anything because Don does not distinguish between the predictions for Israel in the flesh and the predictions involving the entire world. When Daniel was told to seal up the vision “until the time of the end,” what “end” was it speaking of? The end of Judaism and fleshly Israel or the end of the physical world? No distinction is made. He mishandles the entire Bible in the same way.

A ridiculous question: Don asks “Olan, will the Thessalonian church, to whom Paul was writing, and that was under persecution at that time, be resurrected to endure persecution once again, so that the Lord can give them relief “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven”? Yes or No?”

Answer: Another specific from God. “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering into His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.” (Heb. 4:1)

Here again, more theological gymnastics. In trying to prove that the “rest” promised to the Thessalonians came about at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 Don “decodes” the passage in 2 Thessalonians to say that the vengeance on Jerusalem was on the persecutors of the Christians at Thessalonica. If so, why did the destruction not happen at Thessalonica? Besides, the text does not say He is coming to take vengeance on persecutors of the Christians but rather on “those who do not obey the Gospel.” Earlier in the same chapter Paul said that the “day of the Lord” of which he spoke will not come until a falling away comes first. Obviouly this was not to be an intervention in their local conflicts. It would be the day of the final end, which Paul said was being delayed. Finally, I did not agree that the Jews were the only people who would be cast out of the presence of God. I agreed that they were one group of which many would be cast out.

In his “Summary” Don wrote this:
“I challenge Olan to deal with my arguments exegetically. Examine my syllogisms logically. After all, he wrote a book on logic and the Bible, so this should be no problem for him, if my syllogisms are false.
I challenge Olan to prove that the end of the age resurrection of Daniel 12 is not the end of the age resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15, or 1 Peter. I challenge him to deal exegetically with 2 Thessalonians 1.
I challenge him to answer my questions forthrightly and candidly, without obfuscation.”
Answer: In the first place Don has not presented any formal syllogisms. A formal syllogisn would be to arrange his argument into a Major premise, a Minor premise, and a Conclusion. He has not done that. He has argued in a syllogistic style in the sense that he has drawn conclusions from some premises he presented. As I said in my opening, my answer to those is to show that his premises are assumptions and his conclusions contradict express statements of scripture. To me the most definitive proof in the world is an express scripture statement. Don has so many far out theories that it would take a very large book to deal with each mistake in detail. I am not obligated to do that, only to show that his conclusions are wrong according to explicit Bible statements. The fact is they are also wrong according to the actual world we see around us. He knows we still have cemetaries full of dead people. Yet he theorizes that the “:resurrection” Jesus spoke of when “all the dead” will be raised, has occurred. He knows that Jesus is not here in person and yet he theorizes that He came back in AD70, even saying that ”The Lord Himself” returned. He knows that our situation is not as the one described in the city of God of Revelation 21, yet he theorizes that that city has come down from heaven and at least some of us are in it.

I think I have fulfilled my responsibility. I have shown that Don’s proposition contradicts explicit statements in the Bible and that it contradicts observable facts in the world around us. In trying to prove it he tosses in more and more contradictions. An avalanche of words cannot make fiction into facts. That is all the AD70 theory has, an avalanche of words. I do not doubt his sincerety. But with all due respect, he is simply wrong. He has no proof of his position.