Responding to the Critics| Howard Denham’s Abuse of Logic and Scripture – #11– The Throne of David
In this series exposing the rantings and faulty logic of church of Christ minister Howard Denham, we have taken note of how he repeatedly mis-represents what true preterists actually believe. His distortions and false claims about preterist beliefs is despicable and there is no excuse for it. He either does not know what we actually believe or, if he knows what we actually believe, then he is purposely making false claims, seeking to poison the minds of his readers. There is no excuse for this kind of un-scholarly, un-Christian behavior, but it is far too common with Denham.
As a prime illustration and proof of his willingness to purposely distort and falsely represent what preterists believe, take a look at his three syllogisms below. Keep in mind that Denham is offering these as a refutation of preterism.
Major Premise: All the holy things of David are things which Christ received through His resurrection (and subsequent ascension to heaven). (Acts 13:34-35).
Minor Premise: The throne of David was a holy thing of David. [Are the Preterists or Premillennialists willing to deny this?] Conclusion: The throne of David is a thing which Christ received through His resurrection (and subsequent ascension to heaven).
Major Premise: The exaltation of Jesus by way of ascension to heaven is the time when Jesus began to sit at the right hand of the Father. (Acts 2:30-36).
Minor Premise: The time of when Jesus began to sit at the right hand of the Father is the time when Jesus began to reign over His kingdom. (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21).
Conclusion: The exaltation of Jesus by way of ascension to heaven is the time when Jesus began to reign over His kingdom.
Now watch carefully: Second Syllogism — A-Form Categorical or Aristotelean Syllogism:
Major Premise: The throne of Jehovah is the throne of Christ. (Rev. 3:21).
Minor Premise: The throne of David is the throne of Jehovah. (1 Kings 2:12; 1 Chronicles 29:23).
Conclusion: The throne of David is the throne of Christ.
Third Syllogisn (sic) — Modus Ponens Hypothetical or Conditional Syllogism:
Major Premise: If it is the case that the throne of David is also the throne of Jehovah God, and if it is the case that Jesus is seated on the throne of Jehovah God, then it must be the case that Jesus is seated on the throne of David.
Minor Premise:It is the case that the throne of David is also the throne of Jehovah God, and it is the case that Jesus is seated on the throne of Jehovah God.
Conclusion: It must be the case that Jesus is seated on the throne of David.
Denham then makes the amazing claim: “If Full Preterism is true, then it is false that the kingdom of Christ was already in reality in existence prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.” This is just a bold faced, unmitigated falsehood. I hate to be so blunt, but there is no excuse for such misrepresentation.
It is unbelievable how low some people will stoop in their efforts to sway people away from the truth of Covenant Eschatology. Let me make a few observations.
Responding to the Critics| The Reign of Christ
Note that Denham gave no documentation from any preterist source, demonstrating that we do not believe that Christ was seated on the throne of David at his ascension and that he began to rule from there, as Peter emphatically taught on Pentecost! Denham did not cite a preterist who denies this, because he cannot do so! I have been teaching the truth of Covenant Eschatology since the early 1990s. I know many, many preterists, all around the world. I have never – never – met a preterist that denied that Christ ascended to the Father and sat down at His right hand on the throne of David.
Here is where it gets interesting – and fatal – for Denham. I (and every preterist that I know) affirm that Christ sat down on the throne of David – receiving the “sure mercies of David”* – and that he was to “rule in the midst of his enemies” until his enemies were made his footstool. (*If Denham actually spent time reading preterist material he would know that, for instance, I just recently wrote an article to this very effect!)
You see, in the circles of Amillennialism in which Denham travels, it is commonplace to say that Christ will rule on the throne of David only until his second coming at the so-called end of time – the end of the Christian age. This is commonly based on a total misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 15: 24 where Paul said Christ would reign “until he has put all enemies under his feet.” (I have not been able to discover if Denham personally holds this view, but, it is by far the dominant view in the churches of Christ).
Here is what preterists actually believe:
1. Christ ascended to the Father, taking his place at the right hand, on the throne of David.
2. The church / kingdom was “born” on Pentecost, but, it was not full grown. It was not perfected. It did not have its full “constitution” of the fully revealed New Covenant. It is critical that the reader understands that historically, in the churches of Christ, this has been an accepted truth. An important word on this.
Traditionally in the churches of Christ, it is understood that, “that which is perfect” of 1 Corinthians 13:8f was referent to the completed New Covenant revelation. Thus, this demands that the church could not have been mature and perfected on Pentecost. Likewise, Paul said that the church was given the charismatic gifts to equip it to do the ministry, “until we all come to the unity of the faith, the perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:8f). This has traditionally been taken to mean that the church went through a maturation process until the full revelation of the New Covenant was given. Thus, Christ would rule during that time of maturation, the time of revelation, the time of putting away of the “childish things.”
Well, this means that Christ would rule and reign until the arrival of the maturation of his kingdom! Would he cease to reign at that time? Such an idea is untenable. Now, if preterists are guilty of denying that Christ ruled from Pentecost until AD 70 because we say that Christ was ruling in the midst of his enemies until the perfection, fullness of his reign, then guess what, Howard Denham affirms the same thing! He has impaled himself – as usual – on his own keyboard!
3. Christ would continue to rule and reign, in the midst of his enemies, until the last enemy, death, was put under him.
4. At his coming, with the last enemy put under him, Christ would enter into the full exercise of his throne, seated with the Father on the throne (Luke 19:12f / Revelation 22:1-3).
Responding to the Critics| The Eternal Reign of Christ
Unlike those in Denham’s fellowship who claim that Christ will surrender his throne and cease to reign over his kingdom, preterists affirm – with scripture– that Christ’s rule, his reign, his kingdom, will never end!
The scriptures are replete with affirmations that Christ will never surrender his rule, he will never cease to reign.
Psalms 89:34f– The Messiah on the throne of David would rule and never be shaken, never moved, never end! Denham really should spend some time actually studying the Bible instead of just talking about it!
Isaiah 9:6-9– “Of the increase of his government and of peace, there shall be no end.” How much clearer could scripture be? Of the increase of Christ’s kingdom government, there will be no end! No end does not mean “until it ends!”
Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14 – It is fascinating that Amillennialist such as Denham traditionally appeal to Daniel to falsify the Dispensational view that Christ will rule for 1000 years. In countless debates– I have many in my library– Amillennialists have argued that the idea of a 1000 year reign if false, because Daniel said he will rule forever. Amazingly, however, they then turn around and say Christ will only rule until he comes again! Total self-contradiction.
Matthew 25:31f– This text tells us, in direct opposition to the Amillennial view, that Christ surrenders his throne at his parousia, that at his coming, he sits on his throne, and judges and rules! BTW, this is the depiction of Luke 19:12f, and there is simply no way to impose the idea of the cessation of the rule onto that text.
Luke 1:32-35– The Angel told Mary that her son would receive the throne of David and of his rule and reign there will be no end! Mr. Denham, what does “No End” mean?
Another thing to consider is this: Scripture posits Christ’s Wedding at his “Second Coming.” But, this is hugely problematic for Denham and his camp! If Christ surrenders his throne and the kingdom at his coming, that demands that he hands his wife to the Father at the very moment that he is supposed to be marrying her! Take a look at this:
If it is the case that Christ marries the church at his Second Coming, and,
If it is the case that Christ surrenders his throne / kingdom at his Second Coming, then,
It must be the case that Christ surrenders his bride, throne, kingdom at his Second Coming!
It is the case that Christ marries the church at his Second Coming– (Matthew 25:1f; Ephesians 5:25f).
Therefore, it cannot be the case that Christ surrenders his throne / kingdom / bride at his Second Coming. Thus, one of the foundational tenets of Amillennialism falls to the ground. See my article for a longer discussion of this entire issue.
What kind of doctrine is it that demands that Christ “divorces” – or at least surrenders– his Bride at the very moment he marries her? Yet, this is precisely what is demanded by the Amillennial paradigm.
What then does Paul mean when he says that Christ would reign “until” the last enemy would be put under him? It means that Christ’s rule was “interim” until fully confirmed, fully established, through his triumph over his enemies. Just like 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4 show, Christ would rule until the arrival of the “perfect man.” It means that Christ’s rule “in the midst of his enemies” was the time in which he was consolidating his rule and reign. And notice what Paul had to say about when that “last enemy” would be put down.
Paul said that the resurrection – when the last enemy would be put down – would be when “the law” that was “the strength of sin”- would be annulled and defeated. What was “the law” that was the strength of sin? Well, in numerous formal debates and countless private discussions, I have asked my opponents this very question. In the vast majority of cases they have said “the law of Moses.” This is unequivocally, undeniably true. But notice what this means.
The resurrection of the dead, when the last enemy of Christ would be put down, would occur when “the law” which was “the strength of sin” was annulled and defeated.
But, “the law” that was “the strength of sin” was Torah, the Law of Moses (cf. Romans 5:20f; 7; 2 Corinthians 3, Galatians 3, etc.).
Therefore, the resurrection of the dead, when the last enemy of Christ would be put down, would occur at the time when Torah, the Law of Moses, the strength of sin, was annulled and put down.
Now, Denham says the resurrection has not occurred. This means that Torah, the Law of Moses, remains in full effect, fully binding.
The question becomes: What king abdicates his throne at the very moment of his greatest victory? What husband divorces his wife at the moment of the Wedding? This is a false doctrine with no merit.
Howard Denham has falsely accused preterists of denying that Christ sat down at the Father’s right hand, receiving the “sure mercies of David” i.e. the throne of David. This is an egregious, inexcusable and false charge. It is reprehensible.
If Denham takes the view of the majority of other Amillennialists, in affirming that Christ’s rule on the throne of David would be “temporary,” then he is at total odds with scripture that unequivocally affirms that Christ will never surrender his throne, his rule or his kingdom.
If Denham takes the traditional Amillennial view that he church / kingdom was born on Pentecost, but, was immature, incomplete, awaiting the arrival of “the perfect man,” the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ” then he agrees with preterists!
Denham must totally redefine “the law” that was “the strength of sin” to sustain a doctrine of a future resurrection. He cannot do that, scripturally. Thus, in our on-going series on Responding to the Critics, we have exposed the dishonesty, and the abuse of logic and scripture by Howard Denham.