You are hereResponse to Frost

Response to Frost

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By Virgil - Posted on 07 February 2010

by Jerel Kratt
This paper is a response to Sam Frost’s Review (hereafter, “Frost”) of my initial paper which critiqued his view of “world” and “heavens and earth” in 2 Peter 3. I appreciate Frost’s willingness to dialogue with me and his extension of philadelphia to me. As his brother in Christ by faith, I would expect no less of him regardless of whether we agreed or disagreed on this matter. Still, it sets an audience at ease when two men can discuss disagreements without slander, sarcasm, or misrepresentation. For the most part, this was achieved in Frost’s response to me.

Concerns

Frost is concerned that I did not bring up the meaning of “first” as it relates to Revelation 21:1, and its use in Hebrews with the “first covenant” and “first tabernacle” (Frost, 1). I remind Frost that I did briefly bring up this very point on page 16 under the section “No More Death.” My paper was already 16 pages long by that point and I saw no need to further develop the various meanings of “first.” However, I will address this concern in more detail now.

As I said in my original paper, Frost and Bennett have correctly pointed out that “first” can mean “former”, or “first in order or existence.” Frost raises the comparison of the tabernacle and Mosaic covenant to “the first heavens and earth” in Revelation 21:1 in order to prove that since “first” doesn't mean “first in existence” with the Mosaic covenant and the tabernacle in Hebrews 8, it doesn’t in Revelation 21:1 either (Frost, 1). The problem with this argument is that just because “first” in another book and another context can mean “former” to the exclusion of “first in existence” doesn’t mean it always does. If the original readers of the Hebrew epistle knew that the Mosaic covenant wasn’t the “first” covenant ever in existence, then they would know that writer simply meant the “former” covenant in comparison to the new covenant. Frost’s argument does not prove that the first “heavens and earth” of Revelation 21:1 must mean “former” to the exclusion of “first." His argument actually serves my position, not his.

What Frost does is set up a false argument I never made. He states in representation of my position:

“Since the Mosaic covenant is called “first,” and since “the first heavens and earth” passed away in A.D. 70, then Gn 1.1 is the creation of the Mosaic, old covenant.” (Frost, 1)

This shows that either Frost wishes to attribute a false conclusion to me so he can prove it wrong, or he doesn’t yet understand the basic premise of covenant creation. I certainly have never stated that the Mosaic covenant is the “first” in existence. As I said above, I agree with Frost that “first” can have more than one meaning. It is both the immediate context and the analogy of Scripture which determine and confirm the meaning. Frost should be more careful in making his arguments so that he doesn’t make one out of straw. The “first” covenant in Hebrews does not mean, contextually, the “first one ever” because we find covenants in Scripture that preceded Sinai. But that doesn’t mean “first” in Revelation 21:1 must have the same meaning as it does in Hebrews, since the constituent elements are not equal in meaning. I contend that the old heavens and earth is not equal to the Mosaic covenant, but would have contained it.

The question is, does Revelation 20-22 point to the removal of constituent elements found in Exodus 19ff, or in Genesis 1-3? One need not be a bible scholar to see that all of the constituent elements of Revelation 20-22, with the exception of Jerusalem[2], are found in Genesis 1-3. Therefore, I conclude that the “first heavens and earth” of Revelation refers to Genesis 1:1. Frost does not touch the 11 connections between Revelation 20-22 and Genesis 1-3 that I made in my original paper; this is quite telling.

Frost’s next area of concern is the issue of young earth creationism (YEC) and the viewpoints put forth in BCS and how I didn’t “deal with this issue, either” (Frost, 2). Since my paper was about 2 Peter 3:5-7 and not “young earth creationism,” I chose not to discuss this “concern.” Frost shifts from me to the authors of BCS in one fell swoop as if I am trying to contend for an old earth. I critiqued Frost’s position on 2 Peter 3 and showed his theological conclusions to be false based on the preponderance of biblical evidence, and his response begins not with my arguments or the text but rather “geology,” “Thomistic two-fold theory of truths,” and “Aquinian point of views” (Frost, 2). This was wasted time on me or any other bible student who wish to discuss whether Peter saw three heavens and earths or two. By raising this subject, Frost is diverting the reader from the main issue: the text of 2 Peter 3:5-7. The issue of YEC and the role science must play in discovering truth that lies outside of biblical revelation, is a different subject. The age of the earth has no bearing on 2 Peter 3, as far as I’m concerned. However, if the biblical text requires me to abandon traditional views, orthodoxy, or even scientific views, then so be it. God always triumphs over man and his wisdom, creeds, and traditions.

Exegesis

It was quite surprising to read Frost’s admission that his viewpoint is “something new” (Frost, 3). His conclusion that the first heavens and earth of Genesis 1:1 is the physical creation; that Genesis 2:4 is a second heavens and earth—covenantal in nature while simultaneously geographically local and destroyed by the flood; and that a third heavens and earth was created at Sinai--is indeed a unique and original viewpoint which cannot be found in any commentaries. I contend it also can’t be found in the biblical text itself.

Frost charges in this section of his response that I have accepted the connection of Revelation 20-22 with Genesis 1-3 “without any question whatsoever” (Frost, 3). This is a lazy assessment and charge, and ignores 18 pages of biblical-based (not science- or philosophy-based) interpretation on my part, not to mention the biblical arguments proposed by other proponents of covenant creation[3]. Both in my paper and in my reply I have laid out a biblical case for their connection, as shown again above. It appears Frost is choosing to ignore these connections and just state, as if no one would question him, that I connect those two texts without any real exegesis. Frost never, for example, offered any exegesis of Hebrews 1:10-11 nor any response to my section titled “Back to the Beginning” on pages 14-16. If what God created “In the beginning” was about to “perish,” then doesn't that tell us a lot about the nature of what God created “In the beginning”?

Frost then says, “I stress the principle that having a knowledge of Greek does not necessarily yield a correct translation, interpretation or understanding” (Frost, 3). This is contradictory to his initial position that “were” can only mean that they formerly were in existence but now no longer are. I quote him on page 5 of my original paper:

The heavens and earth "were" (imperfect tense, past completed action - Greek 101). The temporal adverbs "now" and "then" are contrasted. "heavens and earth WERE" parallel with "the THEN world" ("then" is a past temporal reference, parallel with the past imperfect, "were") in contrast with "the NOW heavens and earth" (the present ones). It would only make sense to add the word "now" if, in fact, they once "were". The "were" is contrasted with the "now."[4]

Frost calls his Greek analysis “Greek 101.” But then on page 6 of his response to me, he says that my conclusion is based on a “beginners” grammar and attempts to discredit me by questioning my Greek training and appealing to more advance Greek grammars. It seems that Frost is now appealing to Greek 201 or 301, not 101. He questions my use of Machen and says that a more intermediate grammar states that the imperfect “can have the force of the aoristic or punctilliar.” Yes, it can, but that isn’t Greek 101, is it? The more important point is which form is it here in 2 Peter 3:5-7? Frost did not state why he is now appealing to a rarer and more obscure use of the imperfect, and he did not state why the normal use should be abandoned. After raising a diversionary tactic that instead of discrediting me actually discredits his own original “Greek 101” argument, Frost doesn’t set forth any concrete option. And, even if “were” was punctilliar or aoristic, it still implies nothing of their existence or non-existence at the time of Peter’s writing. Frost has not made his case, but simply states we have a “choice” (Frost, 6).

I quote my conclusion of the imperfect “were” from page 8 of my initial paper, in order to refresh the reader and help him “chose wisely”:

The Greek does not demand that the heavens once existed and now no longer do (though that is an optional interpretation of the word “were”); however, the context does demand that the reader should see the connection of the ancient formation of the heavens and the earth, by the word of God. Peter’s argument is masterful. The scoffers willingly ignored the power of the word of God: the heavens were of old and the earth was formed by the word of God (Genesis 1), and they both were reserved for fire and were about to be removed in Peter’s day by the same word of God.

I had established from the context whether the “heavens and earth” that were of old ceased to exist at some point in time (the flood according to Frost) or whether they were of old and now are reserved for fire. From page 6 of my initial paper:

As we saw earlier, the scoffers (who were Jews) were ignoring that the same power of the word of God used in both the creation of “the heavens and earth” and in the flood of Noah’s world would also be used in the destruction of “the heavens and earth.” This is what Peter is emphasizing:

3 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” 5 They deliberately ignore this fact [singular-JK], that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, 6 through which [plural-JK][5] the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. 7 But [or, “and”-JK][6] by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless. (NRSV)

The correlation I was making is this:

1.       The scoffers were ignoring one singular fact: the means of judgment (the word of God).

2.       The word of God is what “created” the heavens and earth out of and by means of water.

3.       God destroyed the “world” of Noah through those same (plural) antecedent things: the water and the word.

4.       And the climax: it was by the same word that the heavens and earth will be destroyed.

So, no matter what lexical or grammatical arguments I or Frost might make, what I did not do was attempt to “prove” my case through commentaries or grammar (as he falsely attributed to me), but rather I used the context from 2 Peter 3 to do so. Frost ignores the context of the surrounding text that I had brought up and simply employs diversionary tactics.

On page 3 of Frost’s response, in his “opportunity to clear the air,” he takes aim at me and charges that I “begrudgingly” give him the point on the Greek syntax of the adverb/adjective “now.” I’m not sure how Frost knows my heart or my intentions. It seems he has made a judgment of me, and in so doing he discredits himself. He should have refrained from stating his personal opinion. Let me be clear: there was no “begrudging” on my part. I am interested in truth, biblical truth. I go where the Word leads me.

Next, Frost takes aim at my use of “world” being too narrow, relating only to “people” (Frost, 4). I remind him that in that section of my paper, I was discussing Peter’s use of world[7], not all possible meanings of it in other places. My concern was: what did Peter mean? Frost appeals to using “the framework or some other apriori concern” in order to determine meaning (Frost, 4). That is exactly what I established: Peter’s framework, which Frost failed to consider. Frost first appeals to the lexicons for his proof that “world” can mean “heavens and earth” or “universe,” as if I didn’t know that myself. If I simply wished to follow the lexicons throughout my biblical studies, no doubt I would have remained a futurist, since when the lexicons say “world” means “heavens and earth” or “universe,” it is because they are futurist, not preterist in hermeneutic. What is Frost suggesting, that Peter meant “planet” or “universe” in his second epistle?

Frost then appeals not to Peter for Peter’s understanding of “world,” but to the Psalms (Frost, 4), which may or may not support his conclusion depending on whether one imports a physical or covenantal understanding to the text, and how one understands the operation of the Hebrew parallelism in those texts. For example, is “world” equal to “heavens and earth” in this passage?

a               He raises the poor from the dust

a’              And lifts the beggar from the ash heap,

b               To set them among princes

b’              And make them inherit the throne of glory.

c               For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,

c’              And He has set the world upon them.

(1 Samuel 2:8 NKJV)

So, there is no biblical evidence that “world” must equal “heavens and earth.” The burden of proof is on Frost to prove “beyond a shadow of a doubt” the equality of meaning in 2 Peter 3:5-7, not me. He is not able to do it with the commentaries, lexicons, Greek grammar, Hebrew parallelism, and is not able to do it with the actual context of 2 Peter.

Since it wasn’t dealt with, I’ll quote it again. Here is what I originally wrote concerning the context of Peter’s “world,” from pages 9-10:

We know that the “world” of Peter and John was “passing away” (1 John 2:17). Since “the heavens and the earth” were also passing away, does that mean they are the same? Just because two things are being compared, does that mean they are equal? Peter’s use of “world” in 2 Peter 3:6 to describe Noah’s Flood means what it does the other times it is used in judgment passages[8]: the destruction of the arrangement, organization or “kosmos” of the ungodly, not the removal of an entire heavenly administration. Notice 2 Peter 2:5-9:

5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked

8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);

9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment. (ESV)

This background text of chapter 2 is fundamental for a correct understanding of chapter 3. Notice Peter’s logical “if/then” construction. If God punished the world of the wicked and preserved the righteous in both Noah’s Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, then he will do the same at the Parousia. At this point I raise the question: if “heavens and earth” means simply a “world” or God-ordained administration, wouldn’t the perishing of that “heavens and earth” be a judgment on both the wicked and the righteous? But this is clearly not the case when “world” is used. Instead, what we find in chapter 2 are the righteous being rescued and the world of the ungodly being kept under punishment, with no hint that the destruction of this “world” means anything more significant than the destruction of the then-living wicked. It was a relevant message to Peter’s contemporary audience that fit within the broader context of the whole epistle…

Now, the “Jewish world” was certainly going to pass away at the destruction of Jerusalem. The world of the “ungodly” perished both in the flood and the destruction of Jerusalem. But wasn’t there more to this judgment in AD 70 than just the destruction of the then-living ungodly? What is unique here is that the passing of the “heavens and earth” represents more than just the “world of the ungodly.” The passing of the “heavens and earth” in AD 70 was the overturning of death! It was what hadn’t happened in the flood: the resurrection of the dead. No dead persons were judged in Noah’s flood.

Contra Frost, I am not merely “picking” an interpretation to fit my view (Frost, 4); I’m letting Peter tell me for himself. Not only that, but Frost never touches the correlation with the dead being judged, which again demonstrates the failure of his model to differentiate between the significance of the “heavens and earth” being removed and the “world” being judged.

This, perhaps, was the most surprising part of Frost’s response:

He [Kratt] quotes Heb 12.25-26 then writes, “Notice that the Hebrew writer says that in the past, when the Law was given through Moses, it was the earth that was shaken, but “now” (AD 65 or so) both the Heavens and the Earth were to be shaken. The context here is a comparison of what happened at Sinai with what would happen at the destruction of Jerusalem. The text is clear: then it was the earth that was shaken, but now it will be the heavens and the earth. The pattern is identical to the one Peter uses concerning Noah’s flood. Then it was the “world” that perished, now it is the heavens and the earth. This distinction utterly destroys Frost’s position” (Kratt, 4). Well, maybe it does in Heb 12.25-26, but we are not discussing that passage, are we? See, two can play this game, for I can simply find a passage where “world”, “earth” and “heaven” are all parallel, then impose that textual meaning on II Pe 3 and claim: “This distinction utterly destroys Kratt’s position.” Kratt is arguing that because a distinction exists between the lexemes “world”, “heavens”, and “earth” in some parts of the Bible, then it must have that distinction here in II Pe 3. He has only shown that if such a distinction exists in II Pe exists, then it hurts my case. He has not proven that it does exist. (Frost, 5)

Is Frost actually saying that 2 Peter 3 and Hebrew 12 are not discussing the same event? The desperation of Frost is so obvious at this point that I hardly feel the need to continue. I didn’t merely “find a passage where ‘world,’ ‘earth,’ and ‘heaven’ are all parallel,” I found a passage that is talking about the very same “heaven and earth” dissolution and judgment! How much clearer could it be? Are we to run in circles forever with the grammar, commentaries and lexicons concerning 2 Peter 3:5-7? If the lexicons and grammars point to two or more different options, shouldn’t Scripture be our guide? If we accept the words of the inspired writer of Hebrews, there was only a shaking of the “earth” at Sinai, but in AD 70 there was a shaking and removal of the “heavens and earth.” My case is proven and Frost is now found seriously lacking in any meaningful biblical exegesis to support his conclusion.

In his paragraph responding to Hebrews 12:25-26, Frost appeals to the destructions of Egypt, Edom, Babylon, and Judah in 589 B.C. (sic 586 B.C.), suggesting that since “heavens and earth” is used in the language of each of these judgments, the conclusion is each of these nations is a “heavens and earth” (Frost, 5). Frost doesn’t give references, but I assume he is referring to Isaiah 13 (Babylon), Isaiah 19 (Egypt), Isaiah 34 (Edom), and Isaiah 64 (Judah). Since Frost didn’t develop in what way he believes each of these national judgments was a removal or dissolution of a “heavens and earth,” I will not spend time developing it. I remind Frost and the reader that I briefly stated my position for a biblical understanding of “heavens and earth” on page 8 of my original paper, quoted here again:

My position, for clarity’s sake, is that “heavens and earth” are God’s people in covenant relationship with Him. The “heavens” represent the consciences of the people of God, and “earth” represents living under a covenant law. This view coincides with how the Apostle Paul understood “the creation” as people in Romans 8:19ff. The substance of “heavens and earth” is people, not planets. If one wishes to explore more on this subject, I can direct them to materials which explain this view.[9]

I would also add that the substance of “heavens and earth” is not governmental administrations, either. What needs to be developed here is the role that Egypt, Edom, and Babylon played in God’s covenantal dealings with Israel. Babylon, Egypt, and Edom had some level of knowledge of God through the ministry of God's servants. For example, consider the stories of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon), Joseph and Pharaoh (Egypt), and Jacob and Esau (Edom)[10]. The knowledge of God among the leaders of these nations led to the responsibility of these nations to listen to God's word given to them. There’s more to a “heavens and earth” de-creation event than just “some really bad things happened when those nations were judged.”[11]

On page 7, after stating that there is “choice,” Frost again presents his new viewpoint for three “heavens and earth” and this time appeals to “of water and by water” in 2 Peter 3:5 as referring to the garden of Eden rather than the Genesis 1 creation. This is where, for someone who is interested in “fitting in with the majority of scholarship” (Frost, 8), he takes a wrong turn. The majority of scholarship sees the Genesis 1 Creation as the subject of the phrase “formed of water and by water” (referring to Genesis 1:9). The verb Peter uses is “formed” (sunestosa, Greek). Concerning this phrase in 2 Peter 3:5, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say:

“earth standing out of” — Greek, “consisting of,” that is, “formed out of the water.” The waters under the firmament were at creation gathered together [emphasis mine-JK] into one place, and the dry land emerged out of and above, them.[12]

Robertson says:

“Out of water and amidst water” (ex hudatos kai di' hudatos). Out of the primeval watery chaos (Gen 1:2), but it is not plain what is meant by di' hudatos, which naturally means “by means of water,” though dia with the genitive is used for a condition or state (Heb 12:1). The reference may be to Gen 1:9, the gathering together [emphasis mine-JK] of the waters.[13]

The word “sunestosa” can carry the meaning of “stand together,” “put together” or “gather together.”[14] What is fascinating about Peter’s choice of this word is that it is very closely related the Greek words used in the Septuagint version of Genesis 1:9.

And God said, Let the water which is under the heaven be collected [sunachtheto] into one place [sunagogan], and let the dry land appear, and it was so. And the water which was under the heaven was collected [sunachthon] into its places [sunagogas], and the dry land appeared. (Genesis 1:9 Brenton’s LXX)

The connection of Peter’s “standing out of water and in water” to Genesis 1:9 is profound, especially when no such language exists in the Genesis 2 account of Eden. There, the one river watered Eden and then “divided” into four parts (Genesis 2:10); it wasn’t “brought together” to form Eden. I believe this is desperate reaching on Frost’s part, i.e., forcing a meaning on Genesis 2 that isn’t there[15]. Unfortunately for Frost, he must abandon the “majority of scholarship” when claiming that Peter had the Garden of Eden, not the Genesis 1 creation, in view when he wrote. Again, I am not using commentaries to prove my point, I’m only showing that contra Frost’s claims, he doesn’t stand in line with “scholarship” on this point. For whatever reason, Frost accepts this divergence from scholarship as long as it doesn’t have him giving up Genesis 1 as the physical universe.

Finally, in his conclusion, Frost takes final aim at my inability to see his position. Granted, I opened the door on that since I stated I didn’t understand it completely. Also, I do not deny that there may be some sort of problem on my end in understanding him, but what I was actually saying was I don’t get his conclusions, particularly how the “heavens” were destroyed in Noah’s flood. “Land” (earth) I get; but “heavens,” I’m still waiting for a scriptural answer from Frost on that one.

When I take his proposed model and apply it to the rest of the biblical story, it fails to measure up because it contradicts Matthew 23, Hebrews 1, Hebrews 11, and Hebrews 12, Romans 5-7 and Galatians 3. Frost encourages me to contact Don Preston. Actually, I have considerable contact with Preston. Frost can ask Preston, or Jack Scott for that matter, how much of “Max King” I understand if he wishes to obtain an unbiased opinion on that matter. Like Frost, I am sold on the corporate body view of resurrection. I was on my way there before reading King. King is a brilliant man, but by no means infallible. When I thought necessary, I have diverged with him (mainly on who were the “all” in Adam) and have backed that up with Scriptural exegesis, as seen in my lectures at the 2009 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend in Ardmore, OK. So bringing up King was again a diversionary tactic. My issue, in my original paper, is not with King but with Frost’s model of three “heavens and earths” and that 2 Peter 3:5-7 can only be understood that way.

Conclusion

In summary, Frost has not dealt with the covenant continuity made clear in texts like Matthew 23, Hebrews 1 and Hebrews 11. He has no answer for Hebrews 12:25-26 and the shaking of only the earth at Sinai in contrast to the shaking and removal of the heavens and earth at the Parousia. He has not dealt with Isaiah 51:16 and how it looks not to Sinai but to the new heavens and earth in Christ. He has recanted his initial position that the “Greek 101” grammar of 2 Peter 3:5-7 has only one interpretation, one which “destroys the BCS foundation.” Frost has multiple heaven and earths passing away before the promises made under them are fulfilled. He has a gap of no “heavens and earth” from Noah until Moses. I by no means have a firm grasp on what is going on in Genesis 1, but Frost’s model has me scratching my head.

Frost now provides “choice” and encourages the reader to evaluate both sides of the argument and make their own decision. I am encouraged by Sam’s plea, and I am very pleased with the tone he has used here. Frankly, when I sent off my paper to be posted on the internet I was concerned what kind of “hell” would be unleashed on me. So I went pheasant hunting with some friends in eastern Washington for a couple of days to clear my mind. If only my wife hadn’t called me the first day of my trip and say “Sam has posted a response…”

I would encourage the reader to decide based on biblical arguments, not on philosophy, science, tradition, or orthodoxy. The reader should take an honest introspective look at whether their resistance to Genesis 1-3 being the correlative text to Revelation 20-22 is based on the strength of their correlation or the power of tradition.

As far as the $100 to which Frost refers, I never asked him to pay me what he owes me. He was actually very clever in his offer; he offered to give $100 to whoever could prove his Greek translation was “impossible.”[16] What I demonstrated was his Greek may be a possibility, but not the only possibility, and that his conclusions are contradictory to the overall scriptural and biblical evidence from Genesis to Revelation. Therefore, his exegesis is wrong. Proving his “exegesis” wrong was part of his offer, but it was conditioned on a caveat that would protect him from ever having to pay (proving his Greek “impossible”). The two propositions he proposes, however, are not logically dependent on each another. I can prove his exegesis wrong, and his Greek as a “possibility,” at the same time. He then says:

“Please....show me where "were" and "are" are not in reference to "heaven and earth. And, if this cannot be done (and it can't), then the WHOLE FOUNDATION of BCS crumbles, since in their book they MAKE THIS VERY ARGUMENT their foundation.”[17]

This is another false logical construct by Frost. “Were” and “are” definitely refer to “heavens and earth,” but the question is, which one(s)? Two different ones, or the same ones? I have proven that “were” and “are” refer to the same “heavens and earth” found in Genesis 1 based on the context of 2 Peter and the full theological picture presented by other related texts. Frost agrees the commentaries and grammars could be used in either of our favors, so what really is he offering? Not anything that would put him in a position to ever have to pay, from what I can determine.

Also, contra Frost, the authors of BCS did not make 2 Peter 3 their foundation; Frost is the one who came out saying that 2 Peter 3:5-7 proves covenant creation false. The whole purpose of my original paper was to refute that proposition. Now, Frost is claiming “choice” but refusing to pay (which I don’t really care about since I never wanted the money in the first place). So, I have a proposal: why doesn’t Sam give that $100 to the Preterist Research Institute, an organization we both wish to see succeed in its work?

Finally, like Frost, I would love to sit and discuss these issues with him. Lately, with a large growing family of 4 kids who are 6 years old and under, one of which is a newborn, and an upcoming move in 2 weeks 1200 miles away and the start of a new job, I wonder how I even have the time I do to put forth such an enterprise as this. Due to those constraints and other priorities which I must place ahead of this dialogue, this will be my only response. If Sam wishes to write another response to this one, that is fine; however I won’t be replying to it. At some point in time I’m sure he and I will sit down and talk; that may be where we need to go to next. I plan to sit and listen and let him explain his views to me. One caveat though: I’d better not hear the words “Clark” or “science” at any point in time. I just want it to be “two guys and a bible.”[18] My fervent prayer is that the discussion of covenant creation can continue without disparity, sarcasm, or bitterness. Even if no one ends up agreeing with me or if I am wrong, if I have accomplished that goal, God will be glorified.

[1] See footnote 6, for example, in my initial paper, which documents this claim.

[2] Jerusalem’s inclusion had its own unique purpose as a part of the whole picture. Essentially, the Mosaic covenant came to embody all that God’s covenants of law and sin and death meant, beginning with Adam. See Romans 5:17-21; 7:7-11; and Hosea 6:7. Jesus had said all the righteous blood shed on earth since Abel would fall on that generation of Jews and on the city and the nation (Matthew 23:31f); therefore, the significance of the removal of Jerusalem reaches beyond Sinai and goes all the way back to Genesis! Frost did not address my arguments from Matthew 23 at all in his response to me.

[3] See this article, for example: http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Articles/languageofcreation.htm

[4] Footnote from the original paper: http://preterismdebate.ning.com/profiles/blogs/local-or-global-genesis-flood?id=4171784%3ABlogPost%3A1896&page=5#comments

[5] I didn’t include “plural” here in my initial paper though I was aware of it and chose not to discuss it.

[6] From the footnote in the original paper: “According to Baker Analytical Greek New Testament, the Greek conjunction de (“but” or “and”) is a “connecting conjunction” in 2 Peter 3:7 (pg. 718). If Peter wished to make a strong contrast here between two different “heavens and earths”, one might expect a stronger adversative, like alla, than de. Baker, pgs 835-836: “[connecting conjunctions] occur between arguments that lead to the same conclusion” (Baker Book House Company, 1981).”

Also, I would add in this response that BDAG says: “When it is felt that there is some contrast between clauses – though the contrast is scarcely discernable – the most common translation is ‘but.’” [Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (3rd edition). University of Chicago Press, 2000; pg 213.] Frost is making the claim that the contrast between “the then world” and “the now heavens and earth” is quite strong; however, that claim falls far short of “scarcely discernable.” My point is that Peter could have used a stronger adversative in the Greek if he wished to make the kind of contrast Frost is making. At best, what we have here is a “scarcely discernable” contrast between two clauses “that lead to the same conclusion”: it was by God’s word that the heavens and earth were created and would be destroyed.

[7] See pages 9-10 of my paper, and in particular footnote 20 where I state that I do not believe “world” only means the ungodly. My point was what did Peter mean when he used it? Throughout the whole letter, it is the judgment of God on the wicked that is in view with the “world.”

[8] Footnote from my original paper: “I want to make clear that I am not arguing for “world” to only mean “the realm of the ungodly,” but am just using this narrow view of “world” as it fits in this context, especially how Peter uses it. For example, Christians were in the Roman “world,” but in another sense were “not of the world” (see John 17).”

[9] Footnote from original paper: The podcast series on Isaiah by Ward Fenley and Tami Jelinek, specifically chapter 65 part 9, found here: http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Audio/isaiah65.htm. See also these articles: http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Articles/heavensconscience.htm, http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Articles/Psalm19p1.htm, and http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Articles/heavensandearth.htm

[10] Tim Martin's presentation at the 2009 Covenant Creation Conference titled "The Promised Land of Lot: Deep Structure of the Old Covenant Creation" highlighted these principles in the wider structure of covenant history.

[11] For more discussion about whether Edom and Babylon were their own separate “heavens and earth,” see this blog discussion: http://preterismdebate.ning.com/profiles/blogs/is-babylon-another-heaven-and

[12] Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, entry for 2 Peter 3:5, e-sword module.

[13] Robertson’s Word Pictures, entry for 2 Peter 3:5, e-sword module.

[14] Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, entry #4921, Seventh printing (2005), page 605.

[15] The problem for Frost is even more severe than I described. In Martin and Vaughn’s first response to Frost’s critique of Beyond Creation Science, they noted in their last section before their conclusion how “Frost argues that neither the universe nor planet Earth were “destroyed” by the flood. [Quoting Frost] “… [C]learly, it did not ‘perish’ if the meaning is the Universe (p. 16)” [end quoting Frost]. Therefore, Frost’s literalism requires him to redirect Peter’s statement toward details in Genesis 2 rather than Genesis 1 to avoid the problem: [Quoting Frost] “The Garden of Eden was formed “out of” water. The LXX reads, “and there arose a fountain out of the earth (ek tes ges) and watered the face of the earth” (Gen. 2.6) (p. 17)” [end quoting Frost]. Note the sleight of hand in the above statement. Frost says the Garden of Eden was formed “out of water,” and then proceeds to quote Gen. 2:6 which says that a fountain came “out of the earth”! [end quoting Martin and Vaughn].

[16] See http://preterismdebate.ning.com/profiles/blogs/response-to-jerel-kratt?id=4171784%3ABlogPost%3A7551&page=4#comments

[17] See http://preterismdebate.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-core-issue?id=4171784%3ABlogPost%3A6317&page=3#comments

[18] This is the title of a new radio program on AD70.net by Michael Loomis.

Sam's picture

Jerel wrote, "I have proven that “were” and “are” refer to the same “heavens and earth” found in Genesis 1 based on the context of 2 Peter and the full theological picture presented by other related texts."

No, Jerel, you haven't. "Proven" means beyond all doubt. Are you really claiming this?

Starlight's picture

• prove

If something proves to be true or to have a particular quality, it becomes clear after a period of time that it is true or has that quality.
- be shown or be found to be;
- establish the validity of something
- testify: provide evidence for;
-To establish the authenticity of
- To demonstrate that something is true or viable; to give proof for; To turn out; to manifest; To turn out to be; To (put to the) test, proof ...
To establish the truth or validity of by presentation of argument or evidence.

Examples-Science has proven that the earth revolves around the Sun and the moon revolves around the earth.

Example- The Bible proves the truth of the time of the Parousia occurring at AD70

Not an example- A statement that 2 Pet 3: proves that Martin and Vaughn’s premise concerning the First Heaven & Earth is wrong.

Virgil's picture

You guys are getting way off track with arguing over "proving" things. If we can't prove anything then why do we write articles and participate in these conversations? On the other hand, if persuasion is the only point of interacting with each other, I think we end up missing out on a lot of the value offered by the Internet.

Just my two cents.

Sam's picture

Virgil,

Who said we can't "prove" anything? I certainly didn't. I just said, before your and Norm's reactions, that Jerel did not "prove" his case. Sure, he provides some "evidence" for it. Sure, he quotes some sources. So do I. Now what? Genesis 1 is not "apocalyptic", period. I believe it is a farce to read it in that light. Secondly, in reading it as the Church has largely read it, and as Judaism has, for the most part, taken it, does no harm whatsoever to the Full Preterist view. I have "proven" that. This whole discussion should be concerned, then, with ACCEPTING the fact that there are alternatives which leads to an inclusive dialogue. I have stated again and again that YEC and OEC is not new to Preterism. It's a legitimate dialogue within Christendom, and should be as such within Preterism. We have full room for Global Flood, YEC views. We also accommodate and see the reason for a discussion on OEC or BCS. I am on record, time and time again, Virgil, of calling for toleration. I would love to see nothing else than that we all get along and agree - but, I know human nature, too. I have read virtually all of the material of BCS advocates (and they are not uniform in what they believe, either - as Jerel noted). I am not convinced that this is a correct approach. It's as simple as that. And, I will continue to speak my mind freely as such. You guys might see me as unsophisticated and "fundamentalist" and "literalist" and all the other things that have been said. Great. If Full Preterism "demands" that we view Genesis as "apocalyptic" - then maybe something is wrong with Full Preterism....or maybe something is wrong with the "demand".

And, I have not heard from Norm on I Enoch 83 which clearly takes the flood as a destruction of heaven and earth (and neither Jerel). If Peter was familiar with I Enoch (as some think that he is) - then what do you do with I Enoch 83, which fits my interpretation like a glove.

Starlight's picture

Sam said … “Secondly, in reading it as the Church has largely read it, and as Judaism has, for the most part, taken it, does no harm whatsoever to the Full Preterist view.”

I’m sorry but if that isn’t a partial Preterist futurist argument then I haven’t seen one. Hold on to the Jews who couldn’t recognize the Messiah and the church that can’t understand eschatology and use them as your reference for reliability.

This isn’t about protecting the status quo of the Jews or the futurist minded church, it’s about determining the truth of scripture no matter whose pet theories it steps on.

Sam said … “This whole discussion should be concerned, then, with ACCEPTING the fact that there are alternatives which leads to an inclusive dialogue.”

Yes that sounds all inclusive; why don’t we just carry this all the way home and accept the fiery destruction of the planet and the future coming of the Messiah while were all about inclusiveness concerning 2 Pet 3. Preterism is a exegetical search about truth not half truths in which to appease folks.

Sam said … “If Full Preterism "demands" that we view Genesis as "apocalyptic" - then maybe something is wrong with Full Preterism....or maybe something is wrong with the "demand".

Or maybe there is simply resistance and a desire for one’s personal understanding more than the truths being revealed. I guess the dispensationalist can use the same argument about full Preterist using apocalyptic language in Ezekiel concerning the “Land”. Yes “apocalyptic” literature is surely the boogey man of scriptures especially when someone recognizes its use in Genesis or Ezekiel undermines their traditional theology. Ezekiel himself even turns to the “apocalyptic” Genesis Garden quite often when discussing the Nations and the promised land of the resurrected Jews. I don’t know what got into Ezekiel to do such a thing as thinking Genesis was “apocalyptic”.

Sam, is this the scripture from Enoch 83 that you are saying demonstrates that the flood was a destruction of the Heavens and Earth? Could you explain to me how you get the H & E destruction out of this language? There is a judgment no doubt and Enoch is often comparing the flood judgment with the final judgment to come. The Heavens are your throne and the earth your footstool is a common saying found throughout scriptures yet I don’t think we attempt to use it for more than an exclamation of God’s sovereignty over everything.

Enoch 83:3From generation to generation shall your dominion exist. All THE HEAVENS ARE YOUR THRONE FOR EVER, AND ALL THE EARTH YOUR FOOTSTOOL for ever and for ever. 4For you have made them, and over all you reign. … 5The angels of your heavens have transgressed; and on mortal flesh shall your wrath remain, until the day of the great judgment. 6Now then, O God, Lord and mighty King, I entreat you, and beseech you to grant my prayer, that a posterity may be left to me on earth, and that the whole human race may not perish; 7That the earth may not be left destitute, and destruction take place for ever. 8O my Lord, let the race perish from off the earth which has offended you, but a righteous and upright race establish for a posterity (94) for ever.

Indeed this language sounds a lot like 2 Peter judgment language but can hardly be developed in the overall context of Enoch here to establish your point concerning a destruction of the H & E. Please explain how you get a total annihilation of H & E out of judgment language? If there was a total annihilation of the H & E then all the people would have been destroyed with no remnant saved. You destroy the biblical definition of the H & E remnant people by calling the judgment language annihilation concerning the H & E. Huge difference there.
Just a few more of the same language from Enoch found elsewhere.

Isa 66:1 Thus saith Jehovah, HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, AND THE EARTH IS MY FOOTSTOOL:

Mat 5:34-35 but I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by THE HEAVEN, FOR IT IS THE THRONE OF GOD; (35) NOR BY THE EARTH, FOR IT IS THE FOOTSTOOL of his feet;

Act 7:49 The heaven is my throne, And the earth the footstool of my feet:

Sam's picture

Norm,

You wrote, "I’m sorry but if that isn’t a partial Preterist futurist argument then I haven’t seen one. Hold on to the Jews who couldn’t recognize the Messiah and the church that can’t understand eschatology and use them as your reference for reliability." But how many times have you used this line for your own view? You constantly say that Second Temple Judaism, Barnabas and I Enoch think in terms of your views......they don't. And, now, here, you admit it. I'll take that point, thanks.

Again, I'll ignore the psychoanalysing. You don't know me. Stop trying.

The quote from I Enoch you are reading is note the right one. Please see the most recent James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudapigrapha, I Enoch, Chapter 83, Book IV, The Dream Visions, vv.1-6. You are quoting from some other source. Thanks -then get back to me on that passage about NOAH'S FLOOD

Starlight's picture

Sam,

If you haven’t figured it out yet the psyche of the expositor often times overrules their logical abilities. It’s called presuppositionalism and one doesn’t have to know the person to recognize it as a reality of their approach especially when one writes constantly on the matters at hand.

Yes Sam the point is that there were some Jews and Christians that actually understood Preterism 2000 years before Preterism was cool. Wasn’t that the purpose of your book “Misplaced Hope” which you now seem to be arguing against? Now it’s the Jews and the misguided futurist Christians that you stand with. Which way is it going to be Sam the Jews and futurist Christians that stand against Preterism or those that embraced Preterism and also confirm the premise of a Covenant Creation? You seem to switch back and forth between the groups to fit your moment. The point being that there is validation from the ancients to prove Preterism and with it the covenant creation premise.

Well perhaps I found your section of Enoch so let’s look at the verses following these that you state construe the destruction of the H & E. Of course this is highly apocalyptic literature that we are dealing with here and you realize is not a physical destruction of planet earth or the physical heavens. Notice that the terrible vision of the Earth being totally destroyed is renounced just as it is in Genesis 6 and a remnant shall be saved. So see here that the remnant of the earth is saved without a total destruction as was first visualized that you pointed to. A reprieve is given just like in Genesis. If the earth is not totally destroyed with the remnant few then the accompany Heavens were not destroyed with them either due to the reprieve granted.

“And I recounted to him the whole vision which I had seen, and he said unto me: ' A terrible thing hast thou seen, my son, and of grave moment is thy dream- vision as to the secrets of all the sin of the earth: it must sink into the abyss and be destroyed with 8 a great destruction. And now, my son, arise and make petition to the Lord of glory, since thou art a believer, THAT A REMNANT MAY REMAIN ON THE EARTH, AND THAT HE MAY NOT DESTROY THE WHOLE 9 EARTH. My son, from heaven all this will come upon the earth, and upon the earth there will be great 10 destruction.”

Sam I’m rather surprised you would turn to apocalyptic literature regarding the Genesis flood supporting much of what I have professed about all of the imagery of the flood account such as the animals representing gentile peoples. I’m glad to see that you want to utilize them to help your points even though your removal of a H & E is not supported by them as you supposed.

Sam's picture

Norm,

You wrote, "If you haven’t figured it out yet the psyche of the expositor often times overrules their logical abilities. It’s called presuppositionalism." Nope. That's not "presuppositionalism" - that's bias. Presuppositionalism is not concerned with the psychic state of the individual - it is concerned with the axioms of a system of interpretation and how it deductively proceeds in a logical manner throughout.

You wrote, "Yes Sam the point is that there were some Jews and Christians that actually understood Preterism 2000 years before Preterism was cool. Wasn’t that the purpose of your book “Misplaced Hope” which you now seem to be arguing against?" No. The purpose of my book was to assume Preterism as true, then, by that, explain how the Church "sort of" got some parts right, and got some parts wrong. The thesis of my book was to find "trace" elements of Preterism that would eventually progress into full Preterism through "organic development" of ideas and our understanding. No one was a "full" Preterist in the second century. None that we have on record, that it. However, on the same note, no one was a Dispensationalist, or a "historic" Premeillinialist, or an "amillennialist" or a "post" millennialist as we find those systems today. They all "developed". Since that is the case, full Preterism was demonstrated to be a "development" from orthodox considerations early on that gradually flowered into a full Preterism. So, no, you are wrong on that, too.

You wrote, "Now it’s the Jews and the misguided futurist Christians that you stand with. Which way is it going to be Sam the Jews and futurist Christians that stand against Preterism or those that embraced Preterism and also confirm the premise of a Covenant Creation? You seem to switch back and forth between the groups to fit your moment. The point being that there is validation from the ancients to prove Preterism and with it the covenant creation premise." I have made my case over the last ten or so years that we should side with the majority as much as possible, whenever and whereveer we can while maintaining full Preterism. Preterist eschatology does not seek to overthrow Church History or Church Theology - it seeks to harmonize it and bring it into a fuller realization by intellectual thought that has developed from WITHIN Church History, not apart from it. You cannot document any "full" preterist within the second century, nor can you document any "covenant creation" premise from the second century. I submitted that the onus probandi (burden of proof) is always on the minority view, and that such a view as full preterism must make its case utilizing that same standard of scholarship and expertise and tools that we find in conservative evangelicalism. I think that preterist eschatology can do just that. Covenant Creationism has a mighty long way to go. So, no, there is no "switching back and forth" with me. I am a Trinitarian, for example, because the creeds have settled that matter for me in Church History. It is the majority view. I wouldn't even begin to attempt to argue against it unless there was some massive warrant (like Preterism) to do so. There was enough "evidence" in the history of the church and through the rubric of organic development (L. Berkhof, John Frame, et al) that justified the undertaking of seeking to establish full preterism as a viable evangelical eschatology that compliments the orthodoxy and doctrines of the Church. Thus, by appealing to the majority of how the Jews regarded Genesis, and the early Church (and most of the church for that matter) - the burden of proof is on you in this debate. Theologians have (since the nineteenth century anyhow) come at the approach of Genesis through a variety of critical means (JEPD, Myth, ANE criticism, Science accomodation, et al) and the conservatives of large academic and intellectual stature have answered back with devestating responses. This is not a new debate, Norm. I read this stuff twenty years ago. I am familiar with it and its history from Graf, Wellhausen, Gunkel onwards.

I side with the majority unless there is some massive warrant to believe that they have erred. I adhere to a "consensus" thought on this (critical realism). I am simply not convinced of "creation science" even though it does share some of the "covenantal" concerns we have in common (which is what we SHOULD be stressing at this point in the history of preterism - our STRENGTHS, not WEAKNESSES)

As for I Enoch, it clearly demonstrates Peter's point: heavens and earth "decreation" language while, at the same time the physical heavens and earth were preserved. In Noah's day the heavens and the earth were "destroyed" -yet preserved - this fits my interpretation like a glove in that it was not only the "world of people" that was destroyed. It was the "world" that was destroyed - the cosmos - yet, the Genesis 1.1 creation obviously remained....the only solution to this is to understand that apocalyptic language accounts for destructions of nations or a nation, or the deluge in a rich variety of ways that can be poetically construed as a "heavens and land" destruction. This was one of the bedrock and well founded exegetical principles of Preterism - and still is. To limit "heavens and earth" SOLELY to Israel removes the rich usage and very elastic usage this phrase has in the Bible.

Starlight's picture

Sam,

You use your definition and I’ll use mine then as I don’t define everything in a reformed or Clarkian world.

A presupposition is something that you assume to be true, especially something which you must assume is true in order to continue with what you are saying or thinking
Bias is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result, when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective

Not much difference between bias and a presupposition is there when you leave Clark out of the equation.

By the way when I speak of Second Temple Period I’m defining it up until the AD70 and not much beyond and certainly not past 100AD when Hellenization of thinking had started to take over the church. If the church which Peter, Paul and John established in Christ to come in AD70 were not Preterist minded then no one has been. So I hardly consider that I’m wrong on that count unless you think the ones that were instructed just didn’t get the Parousia themselves.

Sam said … “I have made my case over the last ten or so years that we should side with the majority as much as possible, whenever and whereveer we can while maintaining full Preterism. Preterist eschatology does not seek to overthrow Church History or Church Theology - it seeks to harmonize it and bring it into a fuller realization by intellectual thought that has developed from WITHIN Church History, not apart from it.”

This is definitely where we part company. Under your presupposition then we should all be Catholic and dump our Reformation or Restoration separateness. There is little practical logic in what you’re stating here. Sam your Reformed camp is a splintered and small minority that most Christians don’t want anything to do with as it is simply Catholic lite as is any man made attempt to organize becomes. It’s the same to a lesser degree within my Restoration heritage and so there is no magic in trying to impose these ill begotten attempts upon faithful believers. I’m not saying that a person has to separate themselves from their heritage in becoming a Preterist no more than they have to abandon their own personal family ties. We are called to Christ where we are found and if it works for you then that’s ok but it sure does help to realize that you’re really not bound by rules, traditions and creeds that are nothing but manmade organizations to foster these often times burdens that Christ doesn’t impose in the freedom of the Gospel.

Those of us Preterist that come out of the Restoration side are going to have a little different perspective than you are and so most of us are not going to be inclined to slide back into those snares so willingly. Part of the divide we are seeing here in Preterism is two heritages exploring the waters through different eyes than yours. Preterism is in reality not a denominational movement as much as it is a hermeneutical movement. It’s providing people with the theological tools to understand the historical church and we have the freedom to take it from there. It will manifest itself in myriads of different ways as different people come to utilize and embrace its ramifications. Preterism has no more ties to majority consensus than it does to a minority one and IMO that is a fallacy to bind it with a majority understanding. Whose Majority is all that has to be asked on this; it certainly would not be yours or mine whether we like it or not.

This brings us back to Covenant Creation and its historical implications. As many of us see it the Preterist hermeneutic is what naturally drives the CC exploration and yes it steps on traditional toes just as Covenant Eschatology does as well. I find CC imbedded in the scriptures and what’s more I find it imbedded in the early church writings especially the Epistle of Barnabas which probably comes out of the AD70 cauldron of teaching. However like eschatological Preterism it became lost in the futurist background of 1900 years of misplaced hermeneutics. It has nothing to do with your straw man science diversions as it is a Hebrew developed theology that is found within scriptures and in other second Temple period writings which I include Barnabas since it was close enough to AD70. However it doesn’t rely on the extra biblical books but is simply confirmed through them as added demonstrations.

Sam said … “I am simply not convinced of "creation science"

Perhaps because of your anti science mentality you simply forget that the book was titled “BEYOND CREATION SCIENCE” and is a book refuting the tying in of science with Genesis but unfortunately your bias has continued to try to exploit that ridiculous assertion of yours. Sam you need to quit your glaring misrepresentations in examples like this and your constantly inferences that we are driven by science. You are the one who is trying to make Genesis work with your version of science not us so naturally it steps on your toes.

No Sam 1 Enoch does not confirm your view about a destruction of the Heavens and Earth as I have just demonstrated for you. Do I have to repeat that your quoting the first 6 verses of that section simply overlooks that the next few verses gives the earth a reprieve for the remnant few of the Earth so there is not a total dissolving of the Heavens and Earth. If you are going to proof text then you need to be a little more careful.

1 Enoch 83:8 “And now, my son, arise and make petition to the Lord of glory, since thou art a believer, THAT A REMNANT MAY REMAIN ON THE EARTH, AND THAT HE MAY NOT DESTROY THE WHOLE EARTH.

Speaking of your proof texting isn’t it about time you got back to answering Jerel on his latest response to you.

Sam's picture

Norm,

Are you a trinitarian? Why?

I Enoch, as stated, is a destruction of the heavens and earth, while at the same time, the physical heavens and earth remain.

Do you side with the majority consensus of geologists? Why?

If majority does not bother you, then stop saying saying things like "the Reformed are a small splintered group" (you don't know that - ever took a poll? Once again, you have no idea what you are talking about. Even so, so what if we were "small". Apparently that does not matter to you - so stop using that line.

Why do you believe in the Bible? The majority put it together, Norm. What lead them to that?

I think it is wise to stop at thiss point in that you obviously have issues with me, personally. I am sorry I keep hitting nerves - We are simply going to have to part ways -

Ed's picture

Okay - just to be clear. Let me list the ones I can think of, and then we'll see if Norm is right, or Sam is right:

Reformed Baptists
Reformed Presbyterians of North America
Reformed Presbyterians of United States
Protestant Reformed Church
Christian Reformed Church
Reformed Church of America
Reformed Episcopal Church
Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches
Presbyterian Church of America
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church USA
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Churches
Heritage Netherlands Reformed Churches
Covenant Reformed Churches
Evangelical Presbyterian Churches
Westminster Presbyterian Churches
United Reformed Churches in North America
Reformed Presbyterian Church - Hanover Presbytery
Reformed Church in the United States
Cumberland Presbyterian
Bible Presbyterian
Orthodox Christian Reformed
Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian
Netherlands Reformed
Free Presbyterian NA
Free Reformed NA
American Presbyterian

There are other denominations which include in their history Reformed churches or Doctrine - e.g., United Church of Christ (a merger which included the German Reformed and German Evangelical)- but who would not be considered Reformed today. In fact, some Reformed believers (who refer to themselves as TR, or Truly Reformed) don't recognize some of those listed above as still being Reformed - e.g., CRC, RCA, PCUSA.

To top things off, there are several of those denominations listed above whose member congregations number less than 10 - the Westminster Reformed Presbyterian being one of them.

So, with all of these splinter groups and some of them barely big enough to call themselves a denomination - who is right in this discussion? Norm who made the claim, or Sam who refutes it?

I think the answer is obvious.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Sam's picture

Ed,

I am not sure I follow your point. When I say "Reformed" I am thinking of all of them. Puritans, Reformed, Presbyterians, Lutherans, et al. No one would be stupid enough to say that there are differing denominations within "Reformed" thinking. Not sure I am following your point here....

Ed's picture

No one would be stupid enough to say that there are differing denominations within "Reformed" thinking.

What? I just listed how many denominations (and I didn't include Lutherans...if I did, as well as all the various Anglican/Episcopal churches that hold to some kind of reformation "truth"), and you want me to believe that I am stupid for claiming that there are "differing denominations with 'Reformed' thinking"?

Yeah, right.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Sam's picture

So sorry, Ed. that was a typo....I meant to say "there are NOT"....sorry about that, I can see your confusion if I wrote the other....and I am not calling you stupid, either....don't take it that way.

Ed's picture

okay, no offense. I make plenty of typos of my own.

MY POINT dear Sam is that one of the things that finally broke the camel's back for me was that every time you turned around, some new "splinter group" was being formed by Reformed folks. Now, I can understand that conservative Presbyterians may not want to be a part of a liberal (PCUSA) or moderate (EPC) Presbyterian denomination, but when conservatives are splintering over things like the jots and tittles of the Westminster Confession, that's just nuts!

My old pastor, Brian Schwertley, started in the RPCNA - exclusive psalmody. We went to the RPCUS - not exclusive psalmody. Now he's with the Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church. Let's count the churches, shall we? RPCNA - perhaps 200-300. The RPCUS - perhaps 50-100. WRPC? less than 10. Notice the progression? Dogmatic exclusionism. "You don't worship the way I think you should; therefore, I cannot worship with you." Stinkin' thinkin', imo. AND, the Continental Reformed celebrate holidays, while the "Regulative Principle" folks don't. Another "good reason" to splinter.

Splinter, splinter, splinter. That's the standard operation procedure for Presbyterian and Reformed. If you add in the Lutherans, a couple of their denominations won't even take communion with you. Most of the Anglican churches, if they ever compared what they believe would find that they could create one big denomination out of about 15 existing ones. But they still find something to splinter over - King James Bible, Which prayer book, etc., etc.

Granted, the Churches of Christ aren't much better; but they are congregational. They have the right to be different from one another, without damning the others to hell (they still do, but they don't have to). Calvinists splinter over everything.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Sam's picture

Ed,

I have ran across some CoC that certainly DO damn people to hell! I mean, come on, if you are not baptized in water per dunking, you are going to hell in some of those churches! Let's not say this is a "Reformed" problem, Ed. Let's say this is a CHRISTIAN problem, rather than trying to locate one denomination or one group (Calvinists) and pin the tail on them. It's a CHRISTIANITY problem. And, there is good, and there is bad, in EVERY one of them. I stopped blaming particulars a long time ago. It's a much larger problem.

Also, when I say Reformed, I am using it in the way I noted. This would include all of those denominations - anyone that could come under the rubric of Reformed would be those who "say" they adhere to the Westminster Confession, et. No one denomination represents "Reformed" to me. They all do.

Also, as you may know, I advocate what is called "ecumenicism" - not the liberal kind, but certainly a kind that sees us all brothers and sisters in Christ - there is only "one body" and there is only "one church" on earth. Would I like to see the day when the conversation, "I am Church of Christ - we are better organized" "no, I am Reformed, we are better organized" over and done with? Certainly. I'd like to hear, "we are Christians".

But, Larry Siegle, who is pretty much a counselor and elder in my life, has told me some wild stories about the Church of Christ. So, for me, it's not ever about "my denomination is better." I don't attend a Reformed church. I go to several (one of which is Episcopal) and another which is just a "home church" of sorts.

I think you have me pegged as saying that I am "Reformed" from a denominational setting, and you would be mistaken there. I use Reformed in a much broader way. I am thinking of the Reformation and the scholastic theology that grew out of the movement (of which we have benefitted from that day in Wittenburg, October 31st, 1517). I am not thinking of any one particular denomination.

As for theology, I cannot bring myself to deny God's absolute sovereignty (as so many passages in the Bible, I believe, plainly expound) - I cannot bring myself to see man's utter helplessness as simply a matter of "freewill". It far more deeper than that. So, I "hang out" there. I still believe in "perseverance" of the saints, but understand that in its eschatological context as well - nonetheless, no man will ever convince me that we can "lose" the new covenant salvation that was given to us in Christ. It ain't up to me to "get saved" and it ain't in my power to "lose" this salvation, either. I am firmly convinced of the verbal-plenary doctrine of the Scripture. Preterism does not change any of this. I believe in the Image of God as that "divinity" of the creature intrinsically conferred on man - it is the definition of Man.

Some have questioned my "testing" things, or bringing "baggage" into the discussion as Preterism changes every aspect, every facet of Christian History and Theology. But, I still see these guys hanging out with the Church of Christ...no baggage there, eh? No creed but Christ, eh? Right. Usually those who say no creed but Christ are the loudest yellers! At least some of the ones I have met. There is enough "junk" to go around, Ed, my brother.

So, again, when I appeal to Reformed, I am appealing to a very large and broad historical branch of Christendom - from John Gill, John Brown, John Owen and John Edward (lots of Johns!), to R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Richard Mouw, James Kennedy and Gary DeMar - to Martin Luther, Calvin, Beza, Turretin and Cunningham - to Carl F.H. Henry, Machen and Clark and Van Til, Bahnsen....alright....you get the point. That's "Reformed". I have no particular denomination in mind. It's more of a "historical" thing with me. And, I certainly do not defend one denomination as "better" than another. They are all marred, in my book.

Ed's picture

I was church of Christ for the first year of my "Christian experience." I am well aware of how many people they damn to hell. That's not the point - AT ALL!

Norm made a comment about Reformed splinter groups. You denied that such a thing is true. I proved otherwise. I don't give a damn about what a bunch of hell-fire and brimstone Church of Christ guys do. I was answering a specific point. This is about modern day Presbyterians and Reformed believers - that's what Norm was referring to, and that's what I was referring to. PERIOD!

The CofC damns everyone to hell over the issue of baptism. These conservative Reformed Presbyterian denominations damn people to hell for singing a Martin Luther hymn. They damn a person to hell for believing that the Constitution is adequate for governing a nation. They damn a person to hell for denying the trinity.

Reformed denominations get smaller and smaller - this is due to churches leaving the denomination and starting a new one with a couple of churches. Anglicans do the same thing (cf. www.anglicansonline.org). Lutherans too. CofC are already separated, for the most part, because they are Congregational. They are already "splinter groups."

I'm not arguing about how good CofC is - I think they stink. I'm arguing about the Reformed. I proved my point in the first post.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Mick's picture

Ed
To be fair the Restoration Movement, which Norm and I share as our heritage, has its fair share of divisions as well.

A Capella
Instrumental
“The Disciplining Movement” or “Crossroads Movement” which became the International Church of Christ and a cult—I bet none of the reformed divisions achieved cult status.
“one cup”-- only use one cup for communion
“70 AD”-- no explanation necessary
“Anti” or “non-institutional”--no fellowship meals in buildings, no support for orphanages, no support for Christian Universities, no individual bible classes
“Mainstream”

maybe not as many divisions, but just as sad.

Mickey E. Denen

Ed's picture

But, the Restoration Movement is a Congregationally based one. Each congregation is independent of the other, for the most part. Of course, over time they've developed denominations, even though they claimed you could not denominate "the true church." Well, they proved themselves wrong.

My point was Sam's objection to Norm's reference. Having been one of those splinters at one time, and then watching as my former friend and colleague splintered himself even further, I found Sam's comments to be either delusional or an outright lie to protect some supposed reputation that the Reformed have as the great holders of truth (like eternal torment, 6 day creation, double predestination, total depravity, etc.). It's all B.S. Augustine and Calvin were just as evil, if not more so, than any other "uber-religious" dude of earlier centuries - declaring anathemas, putting "heretics" to death or at the very least excommunicating them, etc.

And while I disagree with Sam's defense of that stuff, I recognize the inclusive nature of God's love - that not even Calvin's killing of dissenters could separate him from God's love. I believe that no matter how hard Augustine tried to tell God that He had to hate those with whom Augustine disagreed, God still loved both them and him - equally.

Denominations are based on dogma, and dogma a lack of love. The simple truth that Barton Stone acknowledged, that "Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God" is sufficient for all fellowship within Christianity. Denominational "purity" prevents this. Dogmatic proclamations destroy fellowship - it is the antithesis to Love.

It is unfortunate that even after this wonderful revelation of the completed work of Christ, we still "strain at the gnats while swallowing the camel." I pray for a better day...I pray that I can avoid swallowing it.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Starlight's picture

Mick,

You’re exactly right and that is why I put that disclaimer into my response to Sam. I know the history of the Restoration movement and its divisions and continued problems. I believe the difference in Sam and mine position is that I fully recognize the imperfection of all manmade organizational attempts generally called denominations. I believe it helps to have a healthy understanding of that realization so that we don’t end up worshiping the historical entity often times mistakenly called the church. In essence they are what they are and that is simply men organizing themselves in an earthly manner while the church is the collective spiritual Body of Christ forever with only one Head. As I have stated also it’s ok to remain within a group as a Preterist if one can do so without causing division; that is an individual decision for each of us to make. Mick you know that our movement was based upon the idea of restoring the first century church and so we have attempted (but not effectively) to actually pull off a measure of a Preterist paradigm already but we all know how that turned out. Thus our divisions are just another exhibit to demonstrate the futility of forming movements with the hope of one worldwide entity. The Body of Christ is not the Restored or Reformed groups but all faithful under the light of Christ.

Now that being said I may come across as speaking out of both sides of my mouth because I serve as an elder in a fairly large cofC and I do so passionately but the point being I have the freedom in Christ to do such realizing that freedom and the limitations of these manmade attempts. The bottom line is that local churches are made up of people of God whether Preterist or partial or dispensationalist and there is no shame in joining with them in unity as much as possible to serve God’s people. There is a whole lot more going on in my life than just debating Preterist Hermeneutics as I suspect there is in all of us Preterist. Paul gives us some guidelines for these situations in 1 Cor 9 and Rom 14 where we see his adaptation to divergent groups and of differing levels of faith. It’s because he is free that he may do so.

1Co 9:19-23 For THOUGH I BE FREE FROM ALL MEN, YET HAVE I MADE MYSELF SERVANT UNTO ALL, that I might gain the more. (20) And UNTO THE JEWS I BECAME AS A JEW, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; (21) TO THEM THAT ARE WITHOUT LAW, AS WITHOUT LAW, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. (22) TO THE WEAK BECAME I AS WEAK, that I might gain the weak: I AM MADE ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN, that I might by all means save some. (23) And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Rom 14:1-8 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. (2) One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. (3) Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. (4) WHO ARE YOU TO PASS JUDGMENT ON THE SERVANT OF ANOTHER? IT IS BEFORE HIS OWN MASTER THAT HE STANDS OR FALLS. AND HE WILL BE UPHELD, FOR THE LORD IS ABLE TO MAKE HIM STAND. (5) One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. EACH ONE SHOULD BE FULLY CONVINCED IN HIS OWN MIND. (6) The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (7) For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. (8) For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.

Starlight's picture

No Sam it does not say the H & E were destroyed you are reading your own view into the story.

You’re the one originally bringing up the majority consensus not me. I take truth when I find it irrespective of large or small groups.

If you somehow think the Reformed segment of Christianity represents the majority view then I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona that I’ll like to sell you too. But yes if the Reformed camp were correct then I would find my way to them but I don’t need to trade one messed up Heritage movement for another one. As I have stated there are none out there that have it all together so it doesn’t make sense to try to foster one group as generally superior to the other. If they are presently just give them time before division and infighting breaks out as that is the historical record for all movements.

Sam said … “Why do you believe in the Bible? The majority put it together, Norm. What lead them to that?”

So the saved apostles and the “remnant” faithful were the majority of the Jews? Why don’t we quit talking about majority and minority and just concentrate on what the Bible says and leave science, philosophy, corrupted church traditions, creedal history and all these extracurricular out of the equation.

Yes I do have a problem with you Sam. Not as a Christian but as one who is constantly kicking against the goads of the truth of the full Preterist exploration. As long as you are out here presenting things that are not credible then I will consider it necessary to respond to your erroneous claims especially sense you have decided to make CC an object of your personal attacks. You will generally not find me having a problem with most of your NT theology but when you carry your “bias” into the OT and Genesis particularly I’m not going to roll over and let you have the floor to yourself. Your convoluted Clarkian fundamentalist aversion to science drives you and that is not something that is healthy for the future of the Preterist hermeneutic. It’s called unneeded baggage and is not much different than what those like Ed Stevens brings to the table in the NT side of theology and if Ed was on these sites expounding his particular view aggressively I would interface with his position just as strenuously. You may not have noticed it Sam but we are still in the early days of rediscovering Preterist theological implications and historically if you don’t deal with problems up front then they become ingrained systemically and continue to cause problems for generations. Your particular Genesis approach is such a problem IMO for Preterism and I fully intend to continue reacting to your position and attacks against us.

This has nothing to do with recognizing that all these issues are secondary to the fulfilled redemption through Grace that we have received through Christ. It’s about the opportunity of the times in bringing to light the inclination of some in fostering historical errors that need to be addressed up front so that a better foundation is laid theologically for the future.

Sam's picture

Norm,

whatever......

Sam's picture

Norm,

You wrote, "If you haven’t figured it out yet the psyche of the expositor often times overrules their logical abilities. It’s called presuppositionalism." Nope. That's not "presuppositionalism" - that's bias. Presuppositionalism is not concerned with the psychic state of the individual - it is concerned with the axioms of a system of interpretation and how it deductively proceeds in a logical manner throughout.

You wrote, "Yes Sam the point is that there were some Jews and Christians that actually understood Preterism 2000 years before Preterism was cool. Wasn’t that the purpose of your book “Misplaced Hope” which you now seem to be arguing against?" No. The purpose of my book was to assume Preterism as true, then, by that, explain how the Church "sort of" got some parts right, and got some parts wrong. The thesis of my book was to find "trace" elements of Preterism that would eventually progress into full Preterism through "organic development" of ideas and our understanding. No one was a "full" Preterist in the second century. None that we have on record, that it. However, on the same note, no one was a Dispensationalist, or a "historic" Premeillinialist, or an "amillennialist" or a "post" millennialist as we find those systems today. They all "developed". Since that is the case, full Preterism was demonstrated to be a "development" from orthodox considerations early on that gradually flowered into a full Preterism. So, no, you are wrong on that, too.

You wrote, "Now it’s the Jews and the misguided futurist Christians that you stand with. Which way is it going to be Sam the Jews and futurist Christians that stand against Preterism or those that embraced Preterism and also confirm the premise of a Covenant Creation? You seem to switch back and forth between the groups to fit your moment. The point being that there is validation from the ancients to prove Preterism and with it the covenant creation premise." I have made my case over the last ten or so years that we should side with the majority as much as possible, whenever and whereveer we can while maintaining full Preterism. Preterist eschatology does not seek to overthrow Church History or Church Theology - it seeks to harmonize it and bring it into a fuller realization by intellectual thought that has developed from WITHIN Church History, not apart from it. You cannot document any "full" preterist within the second century, nor can you document any "covenant creation" premise from the second century. I submitted that the onus probandi (burden of proof) is always on the minority view, and that such a view as full preterism must make its case utilizing that same standard of scholarship and expertise and tools that we find in conservative evangelicalism. I think that preterist eschatology can do just that. Covenant Creationism has a mighty long way to go. So, no, there is no "switching back and forth" with me. I am a Trinitarian, for example, because the creeds have settled that matter for me in Church History. It is the majority view. I wouldn't even begin to attempt to argue against it unless there was some massive warrant (like Preterism) to do so. There was enough "evidence" in the history of the church and through the rubric of organic development (L. Berkhof, John Frame, et al) that justified the undertaking of seeking to establish full preterism as a viable evangelical eschatology that compliments the orthodoxy and doctrines of the Church. Thus, by appealing to the majority of how the Jews regarded Genesis, and the early Church (and most of the church for that matter) - the burden of proof is on you in this debate. Theologians have (since the nineteenth century anyhow) come at the approach of Genesis through a variety of critical means (JEPD, Myth, ANE criticism, Science accomodation, et al) and the conservatives of large academic and intellectual stature have answered back with devestating responses. This is not a new debate, Norm. I read this stuff twenty years ago. I am familiar with it and its history from Graf, Wellhausen, Gunkel onwards.

I side with the majority unless there is some massive warrant to believe that they have erred. I adhere to a "consensus" thought on this (critical realism). I am simply not convinced of "creation science" even though it does share some of the "covenantal" concerns we have in common (which is what we SHOULD be stressing at this point in the history of preterism - our STRENGTHS, not WEAKNESSES)

As for I Enoch, it clearly demonstrates Peter's point: heavens and earth "decreation" language while, at the same time the physical heavens and earth were preserved. In Noah's day the heavens and the earth were "destroyed" -yet preserved - this fits my interpretation like a glove in that it was not only the "world of people" that was destroyed. It was the "world" that was destroyed - the cosmos - yet, the Genesis 1.1 creation obviously remained....the only solution to this is to understand that apocalyptic language accounts for destructions of nations or a nation, or the deluge in a rich variety of ways that can be poetically construed as a "heavens and land" destruction. This was one of the bedrock and well founded exegetical principles of Preterism - and still is. To limit "heavens and earth" SOLELY to Israel removes the rich usage and very elastic usage this phrase has in the Bible.

Starlight's picture

Virgil,

My point exactly

Why was Sam talking about definitions of Prove when he should be discussing the ramifications of the arguments presented?

Jerel could have used either “prove” or “demonstrated” and the issues would still be the same for Sam. The distraction concerning “prove” is simply a facade.

Enough has now been said about the word "prove"

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Jerel,

Thanks for your careful analysis. I will look forward to how Samuel Frost deals with the biblical issues raised in both of your papers.

For those who are not aware of the wider context of this article, this additional response by Jerel is a continuation of a discussion about 2 Peter 3 and Covenant Creation. Those interested can investigate the entire issue here:

http://www.beyondcreationscience.com/index.php?pr=C_Creation_in_2_Pet_3

Blessings,

Tim Martin

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