Written by Michael Miano (www.MianoGoneWild.Wordpress.com)
In my review of the first portion of the 2013 Don Preston – Steve Gregg Debate (Don in the affirmative and Steve in the negative), Don made the case for the necessary correlation between the eschatological events in the Thessalonian letters to be building upon what Jesus Christ explained about his coming, the judgement, and the kingdom during his earthly ministry, see texts such as Matthew 16:27-28, as well as Matthew chapters 24-25. Don explained the Thessalonian texts as using the pattern of suffering and vindication that can be found all throughout the Scriptures, however the time-texts found in the specific New Testament writings compel us to see that they are speaking about a specifically-designated event, something soon to come (ie., the coming of the Lord as depicted through the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple). Steve responded by acknowledging that Don makes good arguments and good cases for the verses he is bringing up, but Steve said he is “not fully persuaded”. Much of Steve’s negative was spend picking apart details in the text that could be or could not be AD 70, however he was not able to make a specific case to prove a case against what Don was connecting. It very much went along with the line of reasoning Don often says, “If not, why not”. From the first session of the debate it was clear that Steve Gregg could not tell us why not Full Preterism, he simply admitted necessary further study and that what Don said could be right, despite his being careful and hesitant to see the correlation and the “constituent elements” in the texts.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 corresponds to Matthew 23:29-39
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 corresponds to 2 Thessalonians 1:3 – 10
Consider the sufferings being brought upon the churches in Acts chapters 17-18 and Galatians 4:29-31
Consider the larger context, the “hope of Israel” made through the prophet Isaiah (see, Isaiah 2:10, 19, 21; 66: 15-16, 24)
And that’s just a small portion of what Dr. Preston demonstrated through his affirmative in the debate, namely that the New Testament texts are speaking to the particular coming of the Lord, coming of the Kingdom, that Jesus Christ detailed during His ministry and cannot be stretched to be a general, some other coming of Jesus, beyond the scope of time-statements given. When we consider the details (context, pronouns, time-statements) in each of the texts it becomes abundantly clear they are speaking to the imminent eschatological coming of Jesus to bring destruction upon the persecutors (those outside of covenant/kingdom) and vindication to those who are in covenant/kingdom – the texts themselves help you to see who are those considered in covenant and those considered out of covenant.
I continued into the second portion of the debate wherein Steve Gregg sought to offer an affirmative for his belief that the resurrection of the dead and the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ are in the future . He began by asserting that there are “comings of God” in the past, that he is a partial preterism, so some things are fulfilled in AD 70, some before AD 70, and some in the future. He admitted that distinguishing passages is “not the easiest” for him”, that the “resurrection of the dead passages is in the future”; because there is more than one kind of thing described as the resurrection of the dead (Eph. 2 and Col. 2) and he asserted that church history points to a physical resurrection. He connected the resurrection of the dead to the sin and death of Adam in Eden (Genesis chapters 2-3) to which Dr. Preston began enumerating the difficulties with forcing a physical death in the garden of Eden and the resulting questions that come with physical death being a result of sin. For example;
Physical death is the enemy of the child of God?
Sin brings death, but Jesus removed the sin, therefore, believers should die?
Why do believers still physically die?
Did Jesus die as a substitute? If so….what’s going on here?
In talking through Bible texts such as John 5, Acts 3, and 1 Corinthians 15 quite a few thoughts were shared.
- What is the creation? What is the restoration?
- Consider the correlation to John the Baptizer (restorer)
- Peter pulls from the OC prophets
- Time of restoration is time of reformation
- The hour is coming and now is…
- John 5:28-29 cf. Daniel 12:2
Where did Jesus get His doctrine?
- The hour coming and now is….cf. John 4
Steve could not negate the details that Don pointed out in John 5, as connected to John 4 (rather it seems is a confusing way he actually further affirmed them), then he went on to say that while the resurrection of the dead doctrine is the “hope of Israel” that is not the whole truth…”I understand it, it’s not all about Israel”. cf. Acts 24, 26, Romans 9 and Romans 15. After Don explained how the rabbi’s Hebraic understanding also demonstrates the consistency of what the Full Preterist view brings out, to which Steve responded, “I don’t care what the rabbi’s have to say, Jesus didn’t care, so I don’t care. I am concerned with what the Bible says”
Don further tried to show that “The promise of the resurrection is the eschatological hope of Israel…cannot be seperated from Israel’s festal calendar” and that divorces his thoughts and theology from the prophetic context of the Old Covenant hopes.
Don asserted Bible texts that showed his issue – “How can that which has no end come to an end?” (see, Dan. 2:44; Luke 1:32; Rev. 11:15; Heb. 12).
Steve argues that the Kingdom of God has no end, however it has phases, and he believes the current phrase will come to and end at the 2nd coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. He explained an analogy to when King Saul was alive and David was yet to be recognised as king, that is our current place in the Kingdom of God. Steve’s view demands the “universal reconization of Christ” as a future event, when “every knee shall bow”, without having a proper Scriptural and contextual outlining of such a view.
Even after watching the whole debate and listening to the entire Q&A, I can’t help but wonder how and why Steve would put his understanding of Christ coming in AD 70. What was this ‘coming’ about? What OT and NT texts should be connected to this and which ones should (who and what makes that distinction and is it consistent?). Can study and consistent correlating texts speaking about coming, judgement, and resurrection clarify this? If not, why not? What exactly did the AD 70 coming accomplish, if anything, beyond the cross? Does he not understand th
For any person trying to hold to or find issue with “Partial Preterism”, this is a great debate to review. The inconsistencies and lack of contextual response from the “Partial Preterist” view is on full display. However, it also seems as though Steve Gregg would deflect from such consistency as he often mentioned during the debate that these were “his views”.
Review the debate at the following link – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaSot6Yp4VqKsWOHk89ZejsJ9q_HoEYv1