Responding to the Critics| Howard Denham’s Abuse of Logic and Doctrine – #5
In a previous article we demonstrated that Howard Denham has no concept of the Hebraic world, the Day of Atonement, the already – but – not – yet of scripture and even the fundamentals of logic, although he claims to be a master logician. In this installment, we will further expose the presuppositional, illogical and unscriptural nature of Denham’s arguments and theology.
Denham believes he falsifies Covenant Eschatology in regard to Jesus’ priesthood. But, as we have shown, he is guilty of making straw man arguments, claiming, by implication, that preterists believe or do not believe certain things, when in fact, preterists do not believe what he ascribes to us! That is illustrated in Denham’s syllogism # 9, given here:
Major Premise: (1) If it is the case that Jesus Christ began to serve as High Priest some 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and (2) if Jesus Christ was to be both High Priest and King at the same time, then it must be the case that Jesus Christ began to reign as King some 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Minor Premise: (1) It is the case that Jesus Christ began to serve as High Priest some 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and (2) Jesus Christ was to be both High Priest and King at the same time. (Proof: Previous Syllogism; cf. Zechariah 6:12-13).
Conclusion: It must be the case that Jesus Christ began to reign as King some 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Responding to the Critics – Denham’s Straw Man Arguments!
Denham is implying that preterists do not believe that Christ was a high priest or king before AD 70. This is a blatantly false charge, but demonstrates that Denham has either not read the literature, or, is purposely making false claims about what preterists truly believe.
If preterists denied that Christ was a high priest, or, if preterists denied that Christ was king before AD 70, then Denham’s argument would be very good. The problem is, that I do not know of a single preterist that denies that Christ was either High Priest or king, prior to AD 70.
What preterists do argue is that Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father, where he received the throne of David (Acts 2:33f) and he would sit there, “until thine enemies are made your footstool” at the time of his coming in judgment. Would Denham deny that Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father? Would he deny that Christ would sit there, “waiting, until his enemies are made his footstool”, as Hebrews 10:13 affirms? As we shall see below, Denham’s false theology in regard to Jesus’s rule and kingdom lies at the root of his presuppositional syllogism.
Denham likes to point to Matthew 28:18f where Christ said he had been given all authority in heaven and earth. Denham likes to (always arrogantly) ask: “If Christ had all authority then, what more did he need to be given?” Of course, Denham is abusing the text and entire concept of the kingdom.
Is Denham arguing that Christ had been given the kingdom in Matthew 28? If so, then he received the kingdom before: “going into a far country there to receive the kingdom” (Luke 19:12)! Matthew 28 is what is known as a prolepsis. What Jesus affirmed as a present reality, was something about to be done, but, it was so certain to be done that it is spoken of as a current reality.
Notice John 17:4, where Jesus, before the cross, said, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do.” Jesus had clearly not yet finished that work, because even those in Denham’s fellowship point to John 19:31 where Jesus, on the Cross, said: “It is finished.” They claim it was not until that moment that the work was finished!
Was Jesus wrong in John 17? Did he lie? No, patently not. He spoke as if the work was finished knowing that the sacrificial work was about to be finished. And yet, the full out working of the Atonement was not yet completed, as Hebrews 9 shows. Be sure to read my last installment for the proof of this.
Denham takes an atomistic and simplistic approach to hermeneutic. He ignores or abuses the total testimony of scripture, choosing rather to “cherry pick” texts instead of engaging in actual exegesis or the over arching context of the prophetic narrative. Let me illustrate just some of the insurmountable problems with his view that Christ was ruling in full power and glory from Pentecost onward.
Responding to the Critics| The Abuse of “Sit Thou at My Right Hand, Until Thine Enemies Are Made Your Foot Stool”
To understand the faulty nature of Denham’s syllogism, you have to understand his presuppositional theology in regard to Jesus and his rule over the kingdom.
Denham and most if not all in his fellowship believes that Christ is now ruling and reigning on the throne, at the right hand of the Father, but, that at his coming at the so-called end of time, Jesus surrenders the throne, handing it over to the Father. It is critical that you understand this element of Denham’s presupposition.
Wayne Jackson, in a book attempting to refute Covenant Eschatology wrote on 1 Corinthians 15:24: “Now, remember that according to verse 24, when He comes again, He will no longer be reigning, because He will have delivered the kingdom back to the Father” (Wayne Jackson, The AD 70 Theory, (Stockton, Ca. Courier Publications, 1990)37. (See also, Furman Kearly, Premillennialism: True or False?, Fort Worth Lectures, (Fort Worth, Winkler Publications, 1978)258. Kearly applies 1 Corinthians 15:24 to the end of time when Christ will surrender his throne). This view has been expressed to me in numerous debates and discussions as well.
Why is this a issue critical in response to Denham? It is because Denham believes that Christ’s rule over his kingdom is temporary, and that Matthew 28:18f and Acts 2:34-35 are the fullest expression, and the only expression of Christ’s rule and reign. Let’s take a look at the idea of Christ’s rule over the kingdom being temporary.
The reader needs to understand that every single passage that discusses Christ’s relationship with the kingdom at his parousia has him being “confirmed” in the kingdom and ruling “forever and ever,” “age without end” – after his parousia! This truth is found in both OT and New passages.
Responding to the Critics| The Unending Rule of Christ
1. Notice Isaiah 9:6f, where it is emphatically and specifically stated that Christ’s rule, his government would “have no end.” What does “no end” mean, anyway? It is worth noting here that in numerous debates with Dispensationalists, members of the Amillennial world of Denham normally have argued that the Bible teaches that the kingdom would be forever, not for a 1000 years! But now, their own argument is coming back to haunt them, for they are affirming that Christ’s rule does have an end after all!).
2. Daniel spoke of the kingdom of Messiah– his rule- and said it will never pass away, never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14). Yet, the traditional church of Christ view of Christ’s rule and reign is that it will indeed come to an end, because he is only supposed to reign until the time of the judgment. But, here is the significant thing about Daniel 7.
A. It is the time of Christ entering his rule and reign– this is admitted by those in Denham’s camp.
B. Daniel 7:13-14 is a vision of the time of the judgment! Do you catch the power of that? Daniel 7 is not a vision of the Ascension! It is not a vision of the Day of Pentecost! It is a vision of the judgment of the “little horn” that would persecute the church. This is confirmed by verse 10-12 and by the interpretation of the vision in Daniel 7:15f.
C. Daniel 7 therefore establishes the preterist paradigm. Christ had ascended to the Father and sat down at the right hand, waiting until his enemies would be made his footstool. At his coming in judgment of the enemies– the persecutors of his followers (Daniel 7:21f) he would not cease to reign. He would not abdicate his throne. He would enter into the full exercise of his throne and kingdom!
There is a hugely important motif here that I do not have the time to develop, but, which the Amillennial world of Denham fails – or refuses – to acknowledge, and that is the idea that Biblically, judgment and the full arrival of the kingdom go hand in hand temporally.
Scripturally, the focus is seldom (sometimes, but seldom) on the birth or initiation of the kingdom, but rather the focus is on the full establishment in power and glory through judgment of the enemies! This is found in Matthew 16:27f; 25:31f; Luke 21:25f; 1 Corinthians 15:23f– “he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet,” as seen, does not signal abdication, but full victory at the time of the judgment of his enemies! This is precisely the context of Psalms 110, the source of that prophetic citation.) Notice also 2 Timothy 4:1-2 and Revelation 11:15ff. Judgment and the entrance into the full power and glory of the kingdom rule are inextricably bound up in these verses!
So, when Denham cites Matthew 28 and other texts (particularly abusing Daniel 7:13-14) to prove that Christ entered into the full exercise of his kingdom reign at the Ascension, he is abusing the Biblical data.
Denham and crew are thus totally wrong about Christ entering into the full exercise and glory of his throne and kingdom at his ascension and Pentecost. That would – and did – happen when he came in judgment of his enemies for persecuting his saints. And make no mistake about it. Jesus posited that judgment at the fall of Jerusalem – the persecuting power – in AD 70 (Matthew 23:29ff).
3. In Luke 1:32-35, the angel told Mary that Christ would be given the throne – notice that it is the throne that would be given – and that his rule (on that throne) would have no end! The claim that Christ would / will abdicate his throne at his coming is false.
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus makes it clear that at his coming, he would sit on that throne, not quit: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” Notice the direct parallels between Matthew 16:27-28 / Matthew 24:29f and Matthew 25. There is no doubt about when this coming of Christ was to be – in the first century.
Notice something important here. In the Amillennial world of Denham, Matthew 25:1-13 and the parable of the Virgins is about the second coming of Christ at the so-called “end of time.” It is the time of the Wedding. But, wait! That cannot be true, per their version of 1 Corinthians 15:24 which, they tell us, is when Christ abdicates the throne. Do you see the problem? Let me express their problem like this:
At the second coming, Christ surrenders / abdicates his throne and rule over the kingdom.
The kingdom is the church.
Christ marries the church at his second coming.
But, at his second coming, Christ surrenders the kingdom – the church- his Bride- to the Father!
Therefore, at the very time of his Marriage, Christ gives his bride to the Father– he divorces the Bride that he just married!
You cannot affirm, as Denham’s crowd does, that Christ surrenders his rule and reign at the second coming (and believe me, this is a critical element of the Amillennial world that Denham travels in!) without violating all of these texts– and we have not, by any means, touched on every verse that tells us that at his coming, Christ would enter into the full exercise of his throne, rule, kingdom– he would not surrender that kingdom rule! (I will not take the time to do a linguistic study of the word “surrender” in 1 Corinthians 15:24, but suffice to say that it does not demand, or even suggest an abdication. See how it is used in V. 2).
To keep this article short, let me summarize the salient issues.
1. Denham falsely assumes and implies that preterists deny that the church / kingdom was born on Pentecost. This straw man argument is patently false, and grossly misrepresents the preterist view.
2. Denham falsely assumes and implies that preterists deny that Christ was High Priest in his Atoning work – again -this is patently false, and grossly misrepresents the preterist view. This kind of misrepresentation is inexcusable, but unfortunately is far too common with Denham and his crowd.
3. Lying at the root of Denham’s syllogism is the concept that Christ will only rule until his second coming, at which time he surrenders the throne. This is Biblically false as we have shown. Christ never abdicates his throne. Christ rules “forever and forever” (Revelation 11:15f). He now sits, with the Father, on His throne (Revelation 22:3).
4. As just seen, if the view of Denham’s fellowship is correct, that Christ abdicates his throne and rule over the kingdom / church (Bride) at his coming, then it must be true that he divorces his wife at the very moment of his Wedding! This is, needless to say, Biblical nonsense.
In our next installment, we will take a look at Denham’s (illogical) arguments concerning Christ’s priesthood. Denham believes he has falsified the preterist view of Christ’s priesthood and the passing of the Law of Moses, but, as usual, his “logic” is presuppositional, specious and false. Responding to the Critics is easy when the critics offer such bad arguments!