You are hereThe Second Coming: Why We Should Still Be Waiting - A Response To Dr. Russ Jurek (Part 3)

The Second Coming: Why We Should Still Be Waiting - A Response To Dr. Russ Jurek (Part 3)

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By dkpret - Posted on 10 August 2005

by Don Preston
This is my third installment in response to Dr. Russ Jurek a minister and elder of the EdgeHill Church of Christ in Petersburg, Virginia. Dr. Jurek recently wrote a paper entitled “The 2nd Coming of Christ: “Why We Should Still Be Waiting! An Expose of the A.D. 70 Theory.” (We will refer to brother Jurek’s paper as Waiting). Be sure to read the first two installments of my response (Part 1, Part 2).This is my third installment in response to Dr. Russ Jurek a minister and elder of the EdgeHill Church of Christ in Petersburg, Virginia. Dr. Jurek recently wrote a paper entitled “The 2nd Coming of Christ: “Why We Should Still Be Waiting! An Expose of the A.D. 70 Theory.” (We will refer to brother Jurek’s paper as Waiting). Be sure to read the first two installments of my response (Part 1, Part 2).Jurek’s paper purports to be a refutation of my book Can God Tell Time? as well as a larger denunciation of the preterist view as a whole. When we received a copy of Jurek’s work,1 I immediately sent word inviting him to meet me in a two hour debate on the world wide radio program The Voice of Reason, hosted by John Anderson of Lighthouse World Ministries. Dr. Jurek emphatically rejected my offer. Our offer still stands valid by the way. Furthermore, since Jurek refuses to debate, perhaps the churches of Christ in that area would be willing to sponsor a four night, public debate on the topic? Let them choose their defender of the faith, their highly regarded, representative and respected champion, and I will be glad to engage him.

The reader needs to know that we now have a “final” draft of Jurek’s paper. Dr. Jurek gave Doug Radcliffe a copy of his paper, but when Radcliffe passed on a copy to me, Jurek was extremely upset, claiming that the paper was not finished. Now however, we are told that Jurek has consulted with other church of Christ ministers in his area, and that they have collectively put the finishing touches on his book. So, the reader needs to know that I am now not responding solely to Dr. Russ Jurek, but to a collective work from some of the ministers of the churches of Christ in Petersburg, Virginia. Interestingly, there do not appear to be any substantive differences between the versions, so why Jurek got upset is somewhat of a mystery.

A final personal note. As I was putting the finishing touches on this installment, I was curious to know brother Jurek’s position on Matthew 26:64, and Jesus’ promise to the Sanhedrin that they would see him coming on the clouds. I posted a private email to brother Jurek asking him his views on this prediction. His response was very terse, and demonstrates that his mind is totally closed to any thought of open dialogue. His Pharisaic attitude is very manifest. He has informed me that he will not “waste any more time” even thinking about or discussing this topic, and told me not to send him any more emails because, “I will not read them.”

So, the situation that we have is this. Jurek believes he has the right to condemn preterists as heretics and false teachers. Yet, when invited to defend his accusations in honorable, open discussion, he emphatically refuses. Furthermore, he took the considerable time that it takes to write a book, charging preterists with “dishonesty,” “perversion of the scriptures,” and even hypocrisy.2 Yet, he now says that he will not waste another minute discussing the issue. After all, why should he have to discuss it? He has, ex cathedra, declared it to be false, so that settles the issue, right? He has had his say, and that is all that matters! This kind of conduct is less than honorable, and candidly, it is repulsive.3

Frankly, knowing my church of Christ brethren as I do, I must say that I am not surprised, although, as always, I am disappointed. Jurek, like so many of my brethren, expects and demands that everyone else have an open mind and be willing to re-think traditional ideas, to accept only the Bible as the authority, and to put aside personal history and prejudices. But, if you ask a church of Christ minister to do what they ask others to do, that is unthinkable!4 Well, let’s move on.

The 2nd Coming of Christ

Dr. Jurek makes the following claim:

“A.D. 70 Theorists have a credibility problem when it comes to what God says about the second coming of Christ. Concerning time statements, they make the case that God can and does speak clearly about his intentions. When it comes to the actual events, they want to say God doesn’t really mean what he says. This is evidence of a theory not well thought out, requiring twisting of plain, clear passages of scripture to make them support the theory. That’s just dishonest scholarship! To take such a staunch stand concerning time statements, and then discredit statements concerning the actual events is hypocrisy. ‘Consistency truly is a jewel so rare! (Can God Tell Time? p. 7).’”

First of all, let me note that Jurek totally failed to demonstrate that God did not communicate truthfully in regard to the time statements. On the one hand he asserted: “Can God tell time? Yes! Is He able to clearly communicate to man? Yes again! But of the rest of their position, we have to stand against what is at best a misunderstanding based on poor scholarship or at worst just plain textual dishonesty.” (Waiting, 20). Notice also what he admits: “Many times the prophecy refers to events that are ‘at hand’ or about to happen in the near future as well as those that will occur in the distant future” (Waiting, 19). Now, ask yourself this question, how is it “textual dishonesty” and a perversion of the scriptures to insist that we take the time statements literally, when Jurek himself actually agrees that the prophecies referred to “events that were at hand and about to happen?” How is it “poor scholarship” to argue that the normal meaning of the words is that the at hand events were to occur soon? Jurek himself now admits that the prophets were actually speaking of events that were near! Here is Jurek’s dilemma:

Major Premise: It is “poor scholarship and at worst just plain textual dishonesty” to argue that the time words of the imminent Day of the Lord events in the Bible must be taken to indicate the actual nearness of the events.

Minor Premise: But, “Many times the prophecy refers to events that are ‘at hand’ or about to happen in the near future” (Jurek).

Conclusion: Therefore, Jurek is guilty of “poor scholarship and at worst just plain textual dishonesty” to argue that, “Many times the prophecy refers to events that are ‘at hand’ or about to happen in the near future.”

Is Jurek’s admission to the normal meaning of these times statements an expression of poor scholarship and textual dishonest?

Now watch what this means. Jurek claims that he believes that God can indeed tell time, because after all, he claims that the Bible says what it means and means what it says. However, does he, in fact, believe that God truthfully tells time? NO! Remember, he asserted, without proof, that “at hand” does not convey the idea of time but simply means “inevitability.” There is no lexicographical evidence for this. There is no textual evidence for this. He invented that definition out of whole cloth, because he cannot allow the normal, everyday, natural meaning of “at hand” to stand, for if he does, his entire eschatological paradigm falls instantly to the ground.

What is troubling is that Jurek appeals to his audience by telling them he takes the Bible for what it says. He claims that God can indeed tell time. What he fails to reveal to his readers is that he destroys the time element in the time words, and inserts a non-temporal definition, all the while insisting that he is interpreting the Bible according to the normal meaning of words! Well, “inevitability” is not the normal meaning of “at hand” and you, the reader of his articles and mine, know it very well.

Let’s move now to examine what Jurek has to say about the Second Coming of Christ.

THE SECOND COMING

In addition to Jurek’s charge of “textual dishonesty”( noted just above), if we do not agree with him, Jurek continues. He offers Acts 1:11, 1 Thessalonians 4:15f, Revelation 1:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, and 2 Peter 3:10 as proof that Christ’s coming is still future. And he says of these texts: “Is God not capable of clearly communicating to his people when he tells us what will happen when Christ returns? Is he deceiving us when he makes these statements concerning the destruction of the world when he really does not mean the world will be destroyed? What is the difference between these clear statements and those concerning “time”?

Frankly, there is enough error and self contradiction in this quote alone to take up an entire volume of material in response! We cannot respond to every single logical fallacy contained therein, but must take note of just a few of them.

First, Jurek assumes (petitio principii), that since the texts he cites were still awaiting future fulfillment when they were written, that they must still be unfulfilled today. Future then means future now!

Second, while Jurek appeals to the “clear” meaning of what will happen, remember, he does not accept the “clear” meaning of when those things were to happen! Why should we accept Jurek’s declarations about “what” was to happen, when he absolutely refuses to accept when those things were to happen? Let me emphasize and re-emphasize that while Jurek claims to accept the clear meaning of the words of the Biblical text, he does not accept the normal, well attested meaning of the time words, instead, he invents a totally ungrounded and unjustified definition for those words. He does not believe the Bible says what it means and means what it says when it uses time words!

Let me pose this question, by rewording and using Jurek’s own challenge: “Is God not capable of clearly communicating to his people when he tells us when Christ would return? Is he deceiving us when he makes these statements concerning when Christ would come, when He did not mean Christ would return then?” I suggest that Jurek consider these questions carefully. But of course he will not consider or reconsider because he has informed me that his mind is closed.

Third, notice that Jurek suggests that God would be deceitful if He did not fulfill the words of the predictions literally: “Is he deceiving us when he makes these statements concerning the destruction of the world when he really does not mean the world will be destroyed?”! Jurek assumes petitio principii, that his definition of those words and terms is irrefutably true, and cannot be used any other way, therefore, if they are not fulfilled as Jurek believes, then God has deceived him!

Think for a moment of the Jews of the first century. They believed that they knew exactly and precisely how the kingdom was to be established, and Israel restored. And, the modern dispensationalists are just like them! After all, God promised to restore “the tabernacle of David,” and return Israel to the land, and there will be literal animal sacrifices in the kingdom! The Bible says what it means and means what it says, doesn’t it? Did God deceive Israel when He said that the wolf would lie down with the lamb, and the lion would eat grass with the cow? Aren’t children supposed to be able to play with poisonous snakes without getting harmed? (Isaiah 11). Brother Jurek, does the Bible mean what it says, and does it say what it means in regard to these descriptions of the kingdom? Yes or no? If not, why not? Where is your hermeneutic that “the clear meaning of scripture” demands literal interpretation?5 Was God deceiving mankind when He used this language? Will you tell us that this is figurative, poetic language and is not to be taken literally?

Fourth, Jurek assumes the literal interpretation of the coming of the Lord language. Now, this is where it is going to get real interesting as we proceed!

Fifth, related to #4, Jurek assumes that the world, the literal material cosmos is going to be destroyed, by assuming that 2 Peter 3 must be taken literally.

Sixth, Jurek reveals his inconsistency. Notice what he does in the following statement: “What is the difference between these clear statements and those concerning “time”? Now, why did Jurek put the word “time” in quotes? Because he denies that time words actually indicate time in the prophetic scriptures! Well, once again, are they time words or not, brother Jurek? And if they are, your entire eschatology falls to the ground!

Seventh, Jurek does ask a very fair and valid question: “What is the difference between these clear statements and those concerning “time”?”And here is the answer: It can be demonstrated beyond doubt that the time statements are to be taken literally–as I prove in Can God Tell Time, Jurek notwithstanding,-- but that the language of the coming of the Lord is metaphoric and non-literal. And, reader, please catch the power of what I am about to say, Jurek even tacitly admits this, but then seeks to mitigate the force and implications of his admission! Let me demonstrate this.

JUREK AND THE LANGUAGE OF SCRIPTURE

In attempting to negate the time statements of scripture, Jurek inadvertently destroyed his own hermeneutic “The Bible says what it means and means what it says!” How so? Please observe the following.

Jurek calls our attention to Isaiah 13, claiming, falsely, that the prophecy was not to be fulfilled for 142 years. See installment #1 for our detailed rebuttal of this false claim. However, note that Jurek says, “It took at least 142 years for this event which God said was ‘at hand’ or ‘near’ to take place.” (Waiting, 5). Please take note of the fact that the prediction of Isaiah 13 is the prediction of the coming of the Lord and the destruction of “heaven and earth”! Read verses 9-13:

“Behold the Day of the Lord comes Cruel with both wrath and fierce anger. To lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for its evil...Therefore, behold, I will shake the heavens and the earth will move out of its place in the wrath of the Lord of Hosts and in the Day of His fierce anger.”

Okay, let’s put brother Jurek’s hermeneutic to the test:

Was God deceiving the readers of Isaiah 13 when He said that the destruction of Babylon would be the coming of the Lord?

Was the Lord deceiving them when he said He was going to judge “the world” for its wickedness?

Was He deceiving them when He described that judgment and said the heavens and earth would be shaken and removed out of their place, i.e. destroyed?

Was creation destroyed, and did God come when Babylon was destroyed? Yes or No, brother Jurek?

There are lots of other similar questions we could pose from the text, but these are enough. Notice now that Jurek admits that this prophecy was fulfilled! He says so emphatically! So, “the Bible says what it means and means what it says” (Russ Jurek). But, the Bible says that in the destruction of Babylon, the world would be judged, and heaven and earth would be removed. Babylon was destroyed and Isaiah 13 was fulfilled approximately 142 years after Isaiah 13 was written (Jurek). Therefore, the world was judged and heaven and earth was removed in the destruction of Babylon.

It is pretty clear that using Jurek’s hermeneutic, that he has severe problems in Isaiah 13. Not to mention Isaiah 17, 19, 24-25, 34 and virtually all other O. T. prophecies of the Day of the Lord!

The same could especially be said of Ezekiel 7, a passage Jurek cites to mitigate the time statements. He calls attention to Ezekiel 7 and the fact that it says (seven times) that the Day of the Lord was near. Now, interestingly, Jurek tries to argue that because it was as much as 5 years until Ezekiel 7 was fulfilled, that this nullifies the at hand statements. He gives us no reason for his argument, it is just true because he says it was 5 years! That proves nothing, but is, lamentably, the manner of Jurek’s argumentation. He does not prove why 5 years does not qualify as “at hand” he just asserts it!

Anyway, Ezekiel and Jeremiah were contemporaries. In Jeremiah 4 the prophet described the destruction that Ezekiel was anticipating. How did he describe that imminent judgment? Read Jeremiah 4:23f:

“I beheld the earth and indeed, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heaven had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was like a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the Lord by His fierce anger.”

Likewise, the prophet Zephaniah, another contemporary, foretold the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. Jehovah said of that impending cataclysm: “I will utterly consume everything from the face of the earth...man and beast, I will consume the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the earth.”(Zephaniah 1:2f). Furthermore, this judgment was called, “The great Day of the Lord,” and Jehovah said, “The great Day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly...that Day is a day of wrath a Day of trouble and distress...” (Zephaniah 1:14f).

So, Jeremiah and Zephaniah said that the impending, soon coming Day of the Lord would desolate the earth and remove man and beast, even the fish of the sea! Did this literally happen? Was the earth moved at the presence of Jehovah in the judgment of Jerusalem in B. C. 586? Were the fish of the sea destroyed when Jerusalem was destroyed in B. C. 586? If these things did not literally happen according to Jurek’s: “The Bible says what it means and means what it says” hermeneutic, then was God deceiving Jeremiah and Zephaniah when He caused him to say these things were about to happen? Could God not communicate clearly about what was to happen in the Day of the Lord? Please note that in chapter Zephaniah 1:4f the prophecy is specifically addressed “to Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

So, here is what we have.

Major Premise: Heaven and earth was to be destroyed, and the world was to be judged, in the Day of the Lord against Jerusalem in B. C. 586 (Jeremiah 4:23f; Zephaniah 1-2).

Minor Premise: Jerusalem was destroyed in the Day of the Lord in B. C. 586 (Jurek).

Conclusion: Therefore, heaven and earth was destroyed, and the world was judged, in the Day of the Lord against Jerusalem in B. C. 586.

If the Day of the Lord, with the attendant destruction of the heaven and earth, did not occur in B. C. 586, then Jerusalem was not destroyed at that time. But, Jurek admits that the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in B. C. 586 was the Day of the Lord. Therefore, the heaven and earth was destroyed, men were removed from the earth, the world was judged, and even the fish were destroyed from the sea, in the B. C. 586 destruction of Jerusalem!

Will Jurek and his council of ministers deny that Jerusalem was destroyed at that time? No. Will he (they) deny that the language used to describe that destruction was metaphoric, apocalyptic, figurative, symbolic language? Not if I know my brethren! They traditionally admit that the Day of the Lord foretold by Ezekiel–the Day of the Lord of Jeremiah 4 and Zephaniah 1–was fulfilled in B. C. 586! Jurek does not believe that this language was fulfilled literally!

Now, what Jurek, and I assume his council of advisors, do, is to argue that indeed Jerusalem was destroyed at that time. Furthermore, they even argue, as Jurek does in Waiting (19) that in Matthew 24, all verses up to v. 36 refer to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This means of course, that Matthew 24:29f, the language of Jesus coming on the clouds and the attendant destruction of “heaven and earth,” applies to the destruction of Jerusalem at that time! Yes, just like preterists, Jurek believes that the language of Matthew 24:29f is metaphoric and applies to the A.D. 70 judgment of Israel! (We will address Jurek’s views on Matthew 24 in another installment). Our point is that Jurek completely abandons his, “The Bible says what it means and means what it says” hermeneutic in these texts!

What is so significant is that on many of these Day of the Lord texts, Jurek–and I dare say his council of advisors-- admits, please catch the power of this, he admits that there was in fact an imminent, soon, fulfillment of the prophecies! Yes, he admits that the time statements were fulfilled literally, and that the language of the Day of the Lord was metaphoric! This is precisely the preterist hermeneutic! If Jurek were to stay consistent with this hermeneutic he would be a preterist!

However, what does Jurek do? He jumps ship in order to maintain his futurism. He knows that if he admits to the full force of the time statements, that his futurism is dead in the water. So, he claims that although there was an imminent fulfillment of these Day of the Lord texts, such as Matthew 24, that in fact, Jesus made the A.D. 70 judgment “a type of his second coming” (Waiting, 19). We will address this later, but suffice it to say at this juncture that Jesus did no such thing! Jurek cannot produce one verse that says anything like, “As it will be at the fall of Jerusalem, so it will be at the end of time.” He cannot produce one verse that compares the fall of Jerusalem with another event after that judgment! I challenge him and his council to produce such a text! It cannot be done.

We want now to examine some of Jurek’s proof texts. The trouble with Jurek, as is so common with adversaries of Covenant Eschatology, is that they do not engage in serious exegetical examination of the text. They say things like, “Jesus clearly taught the end of the world in Matthew 24,” and that is supposed to prove their point. It does no such thing! My dispensational friends cite Ezekiel 37 and say that the prophet “very clearly” foretold the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of Israel to the land. There it is, plain and simple, “The Bible says what it means and means what it says.” That prophecy has never been fulfilled according to the “clear meaning of the text,”we are told, therefore, Israel remains God’s chosen people, Messiah will come again to restore them as a nation, and build a Temple in Jerusalem! That is what it says, is it not? I propose that members of brother Jurek’s congregation ask my brother exactly how we are to understand the “clear meaning of the text” in Isaiah 11 and Ezekiel 37, not to mention a host of other “very clear statements” in the Old Testament about the restoration of Israel!

What proof did Jurek offer for a yet future coming of the Lord? He cites the verses listed above and makes his, “The Bible says what it means and means what it says” argument. He says that if the verses are not one day fulfilled literally, then God does not know how to communicate, or He was deceitful to use that language. Jurek’s presumptive language is precisely like the premillennialists! They grasp a preconceived idea of the kingdom. They appeal to the Old Testament texts promising the restoration of the kingdom, and say, if God does not fulfill those promises literally, then He deceived Israel and language means nothing!

The problem here is not God’s problem! It is eisegesis on the part of Jurek. It is reading into the text preconceived ideas, and ignoring the background of the language. Remember that we have just noted that in the Day of the Lord language used in the O. T. and even in Matthew 24:29f, that Jurek is forced to admit to an imminent fulfillment of the prophecies, and this admission absolutely, irrefutably demands a metaphoric interpretation of the coming of the Lord language. It demands that God did not literally, visibly, bodily appear out of heaven, even though it says He was going to come! Jurek cannot, absolutely cannot, admit for one moment that this language is ever used metaphorically, without abandoning his futurism. I will demonstrate this as we proceed.

For now, let us examine the passages that Jurek brings forth as the definitive proof for a future literal visible parousia of Christ. We can safely assume that Jurek and his councillors consider these verses to be their most powerful evidence for a yet future parousia of Christ. I certainly did so when I was still an amillennialist. Now, time and space considerations prevent us from going into great detail on each of these verses. However, since Jurek and his advisory panel of ministers list these verses as being applicable to the same time and the same event, then if it can be demonstrated that any one of these verses is not a referent to the future, then it has been effectively proven that none of them applies to a future event.

With this in mind, I want to examine two of the passages that Jurek brings forth. I am going to focus on 1 Thessalonians 4:13f and 2 Thessalonians 1. I will focus on these because in my experience and in my own past, these are the chief verses of appeal for a future coming of the Lord.

Remember now, since Jurek posits Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 and 2 Thessalonians 1, and Revelation 1:7 as all being applicable to the same event, if I can show that even one of them is not future, but in fact applies to A. D. 70, then I have not only mitigated Jurek’s entire paradigm, I will have vindicated the A.D. 70 parousia. It will do no good for anyone reading my emphasis on the Thessalonian texts to object, “Well, Preston concentrated on Thessalonians, but did not have one word to say about Acts 1. And, he didn’t even touch Revelation 1!” Since Jurek and his advisory panel believe that Acts 1 is the coming of 1 Thessalonians 4 and 2 Thessalonians 1, and that in turn is the coming of Corinthians and Revelation 1, then, I reiterate, that to prove that Thessalonians is A.D. 70 is to prove that Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 15, and Revelation 1 is A.D. 70. If Jurek draws no distinction between these passages, then I need not draw a distinction between them either.

1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18

Here is the citation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 from Jurek’s article.

“According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Th 4:15-18).

I want you to focus on the opening line of Paul’s comments: “According to the Lord’s own word.” Paul is letting us know that what he says in these verses is straight from Jesus’ own teaching. So, here is the question: where in Jesus’ discourses do we find the prediction of his coming that fits the language of 1 Thessalonians 4? Where in Jesus’ teachings could Paul have found the very words and descriptions that he repeats here in Thessalonians? Where in Jesus’ teachings do we find every constituent element listed by Paul? The answer to that question is very simple, in the Olivet Discourse, and specifically Matthew 24:29-34. (We will have somewhat to say about the Olivet Discourse later).

You need to know that brother Jurek believes that Matthew 24:29f applies, primarily, to the A.D. 70 coming of Christ in the judgment of Old Covenant Israel. Please let the power of that admission soak in! By taking this position, Jurek is adopting the preterist understanding of apocalyptic, metaphoric language, and acknowledging the language of imminence as objective and valid! Here is what he says of the Olivet Discourse and Jesus’ prediction of his coming at that time: “It must be clearly understood that prophetic language often has dual applications. Many times the prophecy refers to events that are ‘at hand’ or about to happen in the near future as well as those that will occur in the distant future” (Waiting, 19). Do you see what Jurek has done here?

Jurek is admitting that the coming of the Lord language in Matthew 24:29f had an “at hand” imminent, spiritual fulfillment, but then argues that it also has a protracted, literal fulfillment. His admission that the language of these prophetic time texts did in fact have an “at hand or about to happen in the near future” definition completely and irrefutably destroys his entire objection to the preterist paradigm! He has admitted that “at hand” did indeed mean near, and since what was near was the Day of the Lord at the destruction of “heaven and earth” this demands a hyperbolic, metaphoric application of that language! Remember that Jurek has written his paper in response to my Can God Tell Time?. He has argued that “at hand” and all the correlative time statements, “call to mind the inevitability of that event, not necessarily the time frame” (Waiting, 6). Yet now, he actually admits that those time statements did not merely mean inevitable, but did in fact mean those events were “at hand and about to occur in the near future!” This is a fatal admission!

I must digress further for a moment. On page 6 Jurek seeks to mitigate the time statements by appealing to Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 10:7. He says that from Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 10 until A.D. 70 was 37 years and that this violates the at hand imminence. Well please note, Jurek, along with his advisors from the church of Christ, will argue, vehemently, with any dispensationalist that we must honor the at hand time statements in these two texts! He (they) will argue that John said the kingdom had drawn near, and that you cannot extrapolate that “at hand” into 2000 years! They will argue that “at hand” meant soon, not simply inevitability! It had to happen in the first century, or John and the disciples, even Jesus, was wrong!

So, what does Jurek do? He insists that although we cannot put a specific time, i.e. two years, ten years, etc., on “at hand” statements of Matthew 3:2, 10:7, that we can, nonetheless, tie it down to a particular time frame, the first century generation! This is the preterist argument! Of course, Jurek sees the fulfillment of Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 10:7 as Pentecost. So, to Jurek, “at hand” did not extend over three years from John, and over a year or two from Matthew 10! Yet, he wants to extrapolate the “at hand” statements in regard to the parousia 2000 years into the future! In other words, Jurek wants, no, demands, that we honor the time element in John’s proclamation of the kingdom, but when it comes to the parousia, at hand does not mean time at all! Jurek and my church of Christ brethren fail to see the inextricable link between the kingdom, the parousia and the judgment. This is inconsistency exemplified! Now, back to my point.

Paul said that his eschatology in 1 Thessalonians 4 was, “According to the Lord’s own words.” We ask again, where in Jesus’ eschatological discourses do we find every constituent element listed by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4? The answer is Matthew 24:29-31.

Matthew 24:29-34

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Words of Jesus

“According to the Lord’s own word”

The Coming of the Lord Jesus

The Coming of the Lord Jesus

On the clouds

In the air

with the angels

with the angels

With the sound of a Trumpet

With the sound of a Trumpet

The gathering of the elect

The gathering of the elect

This generation shall not pass until it is all fulfilled

“We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord.”

Keep in mind that Paul emphatically tells us that what he says in Thessalonians is directly from the words of Jesus. Further, keep in mind that the only place in all of Jesus’ teachings where we find every one of the elements listed by Paul is in Matthew 24:29-34. Remember also that Jurek and his advisors insist that Matthew 24:29-34 must refer to the A.D. 70 parousia of the Lord! Based on this, notice our argument.

Major Premise: Paul’s eschatology in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is taken directly from the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:29-34.

Minor Premise: But the Lord’s words in Matthew 24:29-34 foretold the representative, spiritual, A.D. 70 coming of Christ (Jurek admits this!).

Conclusion: Therefore, Paul’s eschatology in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, being taken directly from the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:29-34, foretold the representative, spiritual, A.D. 70 coming of Christ.

This conclusion is inevitable and irrefutable. In order to negate this argument, a person would have to show that Paul’s teaching is not in fact from Matthew 24:29-34. Then, one would have to prove, not just assert as Jurek is prone to do, where Paul is drawing his eschatology from the words of Jesus. In other words, since Paul is emphatic that he is citing Jesus’ teachings, and since Matthew 24 is unequivocally the apparent source then if this connection is denied, one would have to present and prove the other passages from Jesus’ ministry in which each of the elements listed by Paul are present, and foretold a literal, visible, non-representative coming of Christ. This cannot be done!

Remember that Jurek, however, argues for a dual fulfillment of prophecy. In fact, this is where he must hang his entire theological hat! This does not help his case, but we will address this at a later time. For the moment, just ask yourself the question, if we are to see a dual fulfillment of Matthew 24, why should we not see a dual fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4? How does Jurek know that 1 Thessalonians is not primarily concerned with an event “that was at hand and about to occur”? Furthermore, this argument virtually admits that since Thessalonians is taken directly from the Olivet Discourse, according to Paul’s own words, that if Matthew 24:29f is primarily about A.D. 70, then 1 Thessalonians 4 is primarily about A.D. 70 as well! If not, why not?

Notice the perfect correlation between Matthew 24 and Thessalonians 4 in regard to when the parousia would occur. Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34), and Paul said, twice, to living, breathing human beings, “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord.” Just exactly how is, “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord” any different than, “this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled”? Was Paul and were the Thessalonians alive when Paul wrote? If they were alive when Paul wrote, then it was the ones then alive that Paul is referencing in his “and remain until the coming of the Lord.” It was that generation of the ones alive that would remain until the parousia.

Jurek and his advisors will argue that Paul was using “the editorial we” or “the royal we.” In other words, Paul did not mean to say that his generation would live until the parousia, but that he was speaking of the Christians who happened to be alive at the time of the Lord’s coming. This violates the usage of the editorial we. According to the grammatical sources, the “editorial we,” or the “royal we,” is used to speak of a class of people of the contemporary speaker.6 In other words, the speaker who uses the editorial or royal we, is not excluding himself from the discussion! Furthermore, there is no hint that Paul was not speaking to and about his contemporary generation. And, just for fun, go back and go through this article and notice our usage of the plural personal pronouns. Notice that “we” have used the personal pronouns to speak of “we” and “us” but, I rather doubt that brother Jurek would argue that these editorial “wes” are a referent to a generation a millennia or more removed from now!

Notice that Paul was addressing Christians who were upset about the death of their loved ones. However, this was not the normal sorrow for the loss of family. They were upset because their loved ones had died before Christ’s coming,7 and they were wondering if they would miss out on the blessings attendant with that event. When Paul speaks of, “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord,” it is a direct contrast between the immediately dead relatives of the Thessalonians, and the still living and remaining Thessalonians!

We must give Paul’s reference to those who are alive and remain, its full force. From what point of time were they, or will they be, the remaining ones? Paul was not using these words in a meaningless manner. Someone was to remain, and the ones remaining are, in Paul’s context, the ones who were, when he wrote, alive. Note that Paul did not even use a remote personal pronoun, i.e. he did not say, “Those who are alive at time of the parousia.” He did not say: “The generation that lives to see the coming of the Lord.” He even did not say: “Those who are alive and remain until the parousia.” Writing to living human beings, and using language that naturally, without any twisting or alteration refers to his contemporaries, Paul said “those of us who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord.” Now, what happens to brother Jurek’s claim that God would be deceitful if the language does not mean what it says? Will he accept his own hermeneutic that we must take the language in its natural, unforced meaning?

It is interesting that those, like Jurek and my church of Christ brethren, who seek to mitigate the power of the personal pronouns in Thessalonians 4 will argue strongly that we honor pronouns in other contexts. For instance, when Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, he said that the Spirit would “guide you into all truth” “teach you all things” and “bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:25; 16:13).8 A great part of the evangelical world takes those promises as still applicable today. Yet, my brethren argue that we must honor Jesus use of the personal pronouns. Who was Jesus speaking to, we are asked? To whom did he make that promise? Was it not to the “you” of his inner circle of the apostles? Yes, it was. Well, was Paul not addressing living, breathing humans in 1 Thessalonians? Did he not use personal pronouns in the same “personal” manner as Jesus did in John? Yes, he did. As a matter of fact, if you start at chapter one and follow Paul’s use of the personal pronouns you will be impressed by the fact that he never uses the personal pronouns in a timeless, futuristic sense at all. To suggest that in 4:13f he radically changes his use of the personal pronouns demands far more then mere assertions. The only reason that Jurek and his panel of advisors take their position is because their preconceived idea of the nature of Christ’s parousia was not fulfilled in the lifetime of Paul’s “we” and “us” so, they have to destroy the meaning of “we” and “us” and make it mean “somebody, someday.”

Yet, we are told that we are to ignore the power of these personal pronouns and apply Paul’s promise to those who were not “we who are alive and remain.” Paul was not really speaking to and about his contemporary “we”; he was addressing a generation that has proven, so far, to be 2000 years away, and still counting! Why should we honor the personal pronouns in John 14-16, but ignore them in 1 Thessalonians 4? It is only theological necessity that suggests that Paul’s use of “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord” did not apply to his living generation.

Since Paul says that it was Jesus’ own words that served as the source of his teaching in 1 Thessalonians 4, perhaps it would be good to give a brief survey of the passages in which Jesus spoke of his coming. This will have to be brief.

1.) Matthew 7:21f / par. Luke 13:22-30– Jesus spoke of the time of judgment when men would say, “Lord, Lord,” but he would respond, “I never knew you.” In the parallel text of Luke, the Lord emphatically declared that this would be the time when Israel was judged and cast out of the presence of God. When was Israel cast out? It was not at the Cross!

Is the time of judgment in Matthew 7:21f the time of 1 Thessalonians 4? Jurek would affirm that it is. Well, then, according to Luke 13 this would be when Old Covenant Israel, the people in whose streets Jesus walked, would be cast out! If Thessalonians has not been fulfilled, then Matthew 7 has not been fulfilled (and Jurek would affirm this). But if, Matthew 7 has not been fulfilled, then Luke 13 has not been fulfilled, and this demands that Old Covenant Israel has not yet been cast out!

2.) Matthew 10:22-23– Jesus promised his personal disciples that they would not have finished fleeing from coming persecution “before the Son of Man is come.” Just how is the time element in Matthew different than that in Thessalonians?

3.) Matthew 16:27-28– We have already shown that these verses cannot be separated. They speak of the same time and the same event: “Verily I say unto you, there are some standing here that shall not taste of death, until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Just how is this promise different from “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord”?

4.) Matthew 26:64– Speaking to the Sanhedrin (not to Caiaphas personally by the way), Jesus said: “Verily I say unto you, that hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Did Jesus come in the generation of the Sanhedrin? Yes he did. Remember that even Jurek admits that Christ came in judgment of Old Covenant Israel in A.D. 70. Whether he applies this specific verse to that event is unknown to me. However, in the churches of Christ, it is a common belief that this verse did predict the A.D. 70 parousia.

So, what was the nature of that coming? Where does brother Jurek apply this prophecy? If he applies it to the A. D. 70 parousia in the judgment of Israel, then he has: A.) Admitted to the objective imminence of the text, and, B.) Admitted to the non-literal, metaphoric nature of the coming of the Lord language. If Jurek applies it to the future, he ignores the very plain meaning of “you will see” by applying it, not to that generation of living men, but to their supposedly reconstituted bodies, resurrected 2000 years after Jesus made his prediction!

We could continue our survey, with a look at the parables, but our point is sufficiently proven in these texts. We will have somewhat to say about the parables when we come to the installment on the resurrection. For the moment, it can be safely affirmed that when we examine Jesus’ teachings, there is not a passage that affirms or even suggests that his parousia would be centuries, even millennia removed from that first century generation. Jesus’ overwhelming message in his teaching was that his coming was near in the first century. The normal, everyday meaning of “we who are alive and remain” is not, “the people who will be alive one day by and by.” Therefore, if we accept the normal force of words, we are forced to admit that Paul was indeed saying that the coming of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 was the A.D. 70 coming of Christ.

We must emphasize this last issue. We cannot over-emphasize that Jurek demands on the one hand that we take language at face value. He chides preterists for insisting that time statements must be taken literally, but that the coming of the Lord language is metaphoric. Yet, here is what Jurek has openly stated so far:

1.) That in the prophetic scriptures, the prophetic time language spoke of events (i.e. the Day of the Lord), that was “at hand and about to occur in the near future.” However, of course, he has tried to convince his readers that those time statements don’t really convey the idea of time, but inevitability. Just exactly how Jurek can affirm that those time statements convey the objective nearness of events that were truly “at hand and about to occur in the near future,” and yet then argue that those same words in the same texts did not even communicate when events were to occur, but the inevitability of the events is, quite candidly, beyond me. How the identical time words, in the same verses, can convey time, but then not convey time, is a great mystery that perhaps only Jurek is able to comprehend. Of course, this is not the normal meaning and use of words, but this is Jurek’s approach nonetheless.

Jurek cannot have it both ways. Either he is right to affirm that God can tell time, and communicate candidly and understandably to man, in which case it means that the prophets did in fact speak of things that were at hand and about to happen. Of course, if he admits for one moment that the time statements of scripture are to be taken literally, then his futurism is destroyed. On the other hand, is brother Jurek right to affirm that time statements do not convey the idea of when events were to happen, but the verity of their occurrence? He simply cannot, logically, affirm that the same words, in the same verses, mean totally different things. He cannot affirm that “at hand” meant near, but “not near, but inevitable” in the same texts.

2.) Jurek has admitted that the language of the Day of the Lord in the fall of Babylon, the fall of Jerusalem, etc. was indeed fulfilled in ancient times. This can only mean one thing: the language of the Lord coming on the clouds, the destruction of earth, the dissolution of the universe, the judgment of the world, was to be taken metaphorically. Yet, remember, those prophecies were fulfilled within the time frame indicated by the literal understanding of the time words, and my brother has now admitted this! Thus, in these prophetic texts, time words are to be taken literally, but the language of the coming of the Lord is not to be taken literally. This is the preterist hermeneutic!

3.) He affirms that the prophecy of Matthew 24:29-34 was indeed applicable, primarily, to the A.D. 70 coming of the Lord. Yet, this admission, like point #2 demands that we take the coming of the Lord language as spiritual, metaphoric language, but that the time indicator of v. 34 was to be taken literally. This is the preterist hermeneutic!

Jurek attempts to make the following point: “Don Preston says the coming of Christ is a spiritual event not physical” (Waiting, 9) Well, what kind of coming does Jurek believe we find in Matthew 24:29f? He believes it was “a spiritual event not physical”! In other words, he admits that the language of the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory, with his angels, and the sound of a trump was not fulfilled literally, visible and bodily in A.D. 70, but that this language is spiritual language to speak symbolically of Christ’s representative coming through the Roman army. All we can say is Amen!! Yet, as the chart above demonstrates, and as Paul’s emphatic words prove, the coming of the Lord in Matthew 24:29f is the coming of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4. But, since the coming of the Lord in Matthew 24:29-31 is, by Jurek’s own admission, the A.D. 70 parousia, then that proves beyond dispute that the coming of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4 was the A.D. 70 parousia of Christ.

Now, to return to our point made earlier. To prove that 1 Thessalonians 4 is A. D. 70 is to prove that Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 1:7 is A.D. 70. So, having proven that 1 Thessalonians 4 cannot be speaking of a yet future, physical, literal coming of Christ at the end of the Christian Age, we have therefore proven that these other passages do not predict a yet future, physical, literal coming of Christ at the end of the Christian Age.

THE TIME OF THE END: A CRITICAL ISSUE

It is important here to examine one of the underlying assumptions of Jurek and his advisors. They believe that the current Christian Age will one day come to an end. They believe in the “end of time.” They believe that Christ will one day cease to reign, as we noted earlier. However, we want to briefly demonstrate the fallacy of this foundational element of their amillennialism. The point is that the Bible affirms, in the clearest words possible, that Christ’s current kingdom, his throne, his priesthood, will never end!

Let’s put my argument into a hypothetical syllogism:

Major Premise: If it is the case that the current Christian Age has no end, then the doctrine that the current Christian Age will end, the doctrine of Russ Jurek, is falsified.

Minor Premise: It is the case that the current Christian Age has no end (to be proven).

Conclusion: Therefore the doctrine that the current Christian Age will end, the doctrine of Russ Jurek, is falsified.

Does the Bible teach that the Christian Age will come to an end? No, emphatically, No! Take a look at the following passages, and keep in mind that Jurek and the amillennial camp believes that each of these prophecies is fulfilled in the body of Christ, the spiritual kingdom, the church.

1.) Isaiah 9:6-9– “Of the increase of his government and of peace, there shall be no end.” This text promises that Christ’s kingdom will grow continually, and that growth and the peace in that kingdom, will have no end. (If Christ’s kingdom reign can end, does that not mean that the peace of the kingdom will end?) Yet, Jurek’s paradigm says that there will come a time when there is no such thing as evangelism. The growth of the kingdom, and the peace in the kingdom are both said to be without end. If the kingdom comes to end, then the growth of the kingdom and the peace in the kingdom must also come to and end!

2.) Daniel 2:44– “In the days of these kings, the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.” Jurek believes this predicted the establishment of the church on Pentecost. But here is an interesting fact. In Hebrews 12:28 the inspired writer says that they were, at the time he was writing: “Receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved” (Hebrews 12:28). To be moved is to be destroyed, shaken and removed, according to the previous verses. Thus, the kingdom that had not yet been fully received, not yet fully established, would not be removable or replaceable when it was fully in place. This is an irrefutable reference to the kingdom of Daniel 2:44. The problem for Jurek and his position is that they absolutely cannot allow for one moment that Hebrews 12:28 refers to a then still on-going process of receiving the kingdom. They must deny the plain, unmistakable, clear-cut language and affirm that the kingdom had already been fully established at Pentecost. The trouble is, if the kingdom that they were in the process of receiving was not the perfection of the church, what kingdom was it that they were in the process of receiving? Will Jurek now come up with a new definition of “the kingdom”?

The point of course is that the kingdom that they were receiving was “the general assembly and church of the firstborn ones” (v. 20f). It was patently not heaven at the end of time. They were anticipating the full maturation, identification, vindication and glorification of the church as the body of Christ! And, what they were receiving would never pass away! Yet, Jurek and his counselors insist that the Church will one day cease to function as the church. It will no longer exist as a teaching, evangelizing, benevolent, society. The church, as the body established by the blood of Christ, will be moved, shaken, and come to an end. This is a clear violation of Daniel 2 and Hebrews 12.

3.) Daniel 7:12-13– Christ’s kingdom, his rule on the throne, will never pass away. How much clearer could language be? If Christ’s rule on the throne, and in his kingdom will never pass away, how can Jurek and the amillennial school insist that the Church Age will come to an end?

4.) Luke 1:32-33– While Jurek and his advisors believe that Jesus will surrender the throne at his parousia, the angel affirmed to Mary that her son would sit on the throne of David forever, and that of his throne and of his kingdom, “there will be no end.” The amillennial tradition, that in which I was raised, simply has never confronted and dealt candidly with this truth! The Church, Christ’s rule on the throne of David, has no end!

5.) Ephesians 3:20-21– Paul could hardly contain himself as he considered the glory of Christ in the church: “Unto Him be glory in the church, by Jesus Christ, throughout all ages, age without end, amen!” How can the church age, which has no end, come to an end? In public debates with amillennialists, I have asked: “Can that which has no end, come to an end?” Incredibly, some of my amillennial opponents have responded, “Yes!”9 I have yet to receive an explanation of how that could happen, but their futurism and tradition forced them to affirm the end of the endless church age!

6.) Hebrews 7:16, 24-25– In these verses, the inspired writer affirms that Christ’s priesthood, the priesthood of intercessor ship and mediation, is “according to the power of an endless life” (v. 16). He continues in his priesthood “forever,” and his priesthood is an “unchangeable” priesthood. Finally, the writer says that Christ “ever lives to make intercession for us” (v. 25). Now, if Christ will be a priest without end, if his priesthood is linked with the duration of his life, just how in the name of reason can one argue that Christ will one day lay aside his priesthood?

7.) Revelation 22:3– Notice that Revelation 22 is definitely after the time of the end. It is after the resurrection (20:12f). It is after the passing of “heaven and earth” (21:1-2). It is therefore, the time when, according to Jurek’s theology, Christ should have surrendered the throne and kingdom. Yet, what does John see? He sees Jesus on the throne with the Father! See also Revelation 11:15f, where at the time of the resurrection, Christ, with the Father, takes the sovereignty and the kingdom and rules “forever and ever.” He does not abdicate his kingdom rule, he takes his kingdom rule! Does that sound like Jesus surrenders the throne at his parousia? Do you get the idea from Revelation 11 and Revelation 22 that the age of the kingdom to be established at that time would come to an end? No, the idea is that at the time in view, Christ takes his throne with the Father and rules in the age without end!

By the way, Revelation 11 is devastating to Jurek’s futurism and his views of the kingdom and resurrection. According to John, the time of the resurrection, judgment, and the full arrival of Christ into his kingdom, is in the immediate framework of the destruction of the city “where the Lord was slain” (Revelation 11:8). Does Jurek’s amillennialism have any place whatsoever for the judgment, resurrection, and the arrival of the kingdom within the framework of the judgment of the city “where the Lord was slain”? No. Only preterism correctly allows for these things in the context of the judgment of the city guilty of killing the Lord.

These are but a few of the many passages that affirm unequivocally that the Christian Age has no end. The fact is that the only age that the Bible affirms would end is the Old Covenant Age of Israel. See my book The Last Days Identified for a full demonstration of this.10 There is no justification for affirming the end of the material world, the end of time, or the end of the Christian Age.11 Please keep this in mind as we proceed, since Jurek appeals to the end of the age in his book. For Jurek, the end of the age is referent to the end of what the Bible unequivocally affirms to be endless! This is a fundamental and fatal flaw in his theology.

On this point alone, Jurek’s entire eschatology falls to the ground. For his theology to be true, the Christian Age must come to an end. Yet, scripture affirms that the Christian Age will have no end. For Jurek’s doctrine to be true, Christ must surrender his throne,12 yet the Bible affirms that Christ will never surrender his throne. For Jurek’s doctrine to be true, the kingdom must be removed, yet the Bible says the kingdom will never be moved. For his doctrine to be true Christ must stop being a High Priest, yet the Bible says that Christ is a priest “after the order of an endless life.” As you can plainly see, Jurek and his preaching associates teach the end of virtually everything that the Bible says would never end! Isn’t there something wrong with a doctrine that turns the words of scripture on their head, and makes “at hand” mean “a long time,” and makes “no end” mean “it will come to an end”?

Here is our argument: The Christian Age has no end. But, Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4, 2 Thessalonians 1, and Revelation 1:7 predicted the coming of Christ at the end of the age. Therefore, since the Christian Age has no end, this means that Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4, 2 Thessalonians 1, and Revelation 1:7, do not speak of the coming of Christ at the end of the Christian Age.

Well, I see that this installment is already longer than the last one, and I have only covered 1 Thessalonians 4. I will stop this installment here, and pick it up in the next installment when I examine 2 Thessalonians 1. Let me summarize and conclude what we have seen in this installment.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

In this third installment, we have shown the inconsistency of Russ Jurek in regard to his hermeneutic that the Bible says what it means and means what it says. On the one hand, he says that prophetic time statements indicated events were actually near. But, then he argues that those words did not actually indicate nearness (time) at all, but inevitability. This is inconsistent, confused and confusing. How can the same words, in the same verse, mean two totally different, conflicting things?

We have shown the utter inconsistency of Jurek in regard to how literal the language of the Day of the Lord is to be taken. He actually admits to the spiritual nature of the language, because he admits that the predictions of the Day of the Lord against the various nations in the O. T. were in fact fulfilled in an imminent framework.

Furthermore, we have shown that Matthew 24:29f and 1 Thessalonians 4:13f are directly parallel passages. Paul said that 1 Thessalonians 4 was from the very words of Jesus himself. Yet, the only place in Jesus’ discourses containing all the elements of Thessalonians is the Olivet Discourse. Since the source of 1 Thessalonians 4 is Matthew 24:29-31,13 and since Matthew 24:29-31 is, according to Jurek himself, the A.D. 70 coming of the Lord, then this demands, prima facia, that 1 Thessalonians 4 is the A.D. 70 parousia of Christ.

We have shown that one of the fundamental assumptions underlying Jurek’s eschatology is the belief that the Christian Age will one day end.. By the way, see my The Last Days Identified, for a small listing of texts that affirm that the earth will never be destroyed!14 Yet, we have proven beyond doubt that Christ’s rule, his reign, his throne, his kingdom, his age, his word, his priesthood, will never end! This one fact alone completely destroys brother Jurek’s futurist eschatology! If the current Christian Age will never end, then Christ will not come to put an end to it! That which has no end, will not end!

In our next installment, we will do an in-depth analysis of 2 Thessalonians 1, and prove that it foretold the A.D. 70 parousia of Christ, not an end of time, earth burning, visible coming of Christ.

End Notes

[1] Doug Radcliffe, a preterist, is a member of Jurek’s congregation, and is currently being threatened with dis-fellowshipment (i.e. excommunication), if he does not cease and desist teaching Covenant Eschatology. Radcliffe informs me that his repeated attempts to get the elders, including Jurek, to sit down with him and reason together, have resulted in refusal and stonewalling. Instead, Jurek condemns preterism from the pulpit and now in the publication of his book. This is an all too familiar story, and one being repeated all across the world.

[2] Knowing my brethren as I do, I venture to say that Jurek has often preached on the importance of an open mind, and the willingness to change in the light of Biblical authority and testimony. Yet, he has now demonstrated his own complete unwillingness to openly discuss issues that lie at the very foundation of the person of Christ! Does Jurek have the kind of attitude that he asks others to have? Very clearly, no. If Jurek wants to discuss the charge of hypocrisy, perhaps he should look in the mirror.

[3] I cannot begin to tell you what a remarkable change there has been in the churches of Christ. My fellowship has been known for its willingness to debate any topic. We have historically lauded the value of open honorable discussions. Yet, in a very revealing turn of events, it is now all but impossible to get any of the top men in the churches of Christ to enter the polemic arena. I personally attended a public formal debate between a “prophet” and one of the top faculty members of Freed-Hardeman University, on the topic, Is the Bible an idol that needs to be destroyed? The building was full and overflowing. Yet, while members of the faculty were willing to engage in a debate on that topic, they will not engage in a discussion on the parousia! Many other examples could be cited involving Alan Highers, Wayne Jackson, Gary Workman, and other “defenders of the faith” in the churches of invited to debate Covenant Eschatology, they offer every conceivable excuse in the world for not engaging. See my article about Alan Highers for instance, “Another Champion Runs for the Hills.” For those of us who grew up in the church of Christ fellowship, this refusal to debate is a telling admission that these men know they cannot refute preterism.

[4] Of course, the truth is that my church of Christ brethren have no monopoly on closed mindedness! I hear from Baptist ministers, Presbyterian ministers, Assembly of God ministers, etc. etc. all the time who tell me that this closed mindedness is typical of their own fellowships and leaders. In sum, it is the human condition that loves its comfort zone, and does not want to be challenged, or to even entertain the thought that they could be wrong.

[5] Let me reiterate a point from the second installment, a point that amillennialists miss, and that is that the coming of the kingdom is the coming of the Lord. Jesus was to sit on the throne of his glory at his return, not quit the throne as Jurek and the churches of Christ normally affirm. Jurek insists that “the kingdom does not come with observation” but insists that Christ’s parousia is with observation! Yet, Paul, anticipating the resurrection said: “We do not look on the things that are seen, but unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:16f). Paul therefore places the resurrection in the same “unseen, without observation” category as the kingdom, and yet, Jurek and the other church of Christ ministers with whom he consulted denies this!

[6] See for instance the Oxford Dictionary (1970), Vol. XII. It says that the editorial or royal we is “used indefinitely in general statements in which the speaker or writer includes those whom he addresses, his contemporaries, his fellow country men or the like.” Also in 1500 Literary References Everyone Should Know, by Grosse and Lyster, they say of the “royal we”: “It has been the custom for monarchs to refer to themselves in the plural.” As you can see, the use of the editorial or royal we, is no solution to the problem of 1 Thessalonians 4. In fact, it actually destroys their attempt to negate the time factor of the text.

[7] We have every right to ask, why is it that the Thessalonians brethren were so upset that their loved ones had died before the Lord came? According to Jurek, there was no way that they could know that the Lord’s coming was to be soon or protracted, and even if they had known of some of the “at hand” statements concerning the parousia, they were, per Jurek, not to think that the parousia was near, but only inevitable! As virtually all commentators agree, the reason the Thessalonians were so upset is because they believed that Christ’s return was to be soon, and they did not think that their loved ones would die before that event! So, the natural question is, where did the Thessalonian Christians get the idea that the Day of the Lord was such an imminent event that the death of their loved ones prior to its occurrence caused them such grief? Paul was their teacher. Did they not get the idea of the imminent parousia from him? One has but to read Paul’s epistles to know that he did affirm the soon coming of the Lord.

[8] I am confident that Jurek and his band of counselors would also argue that we honor the use of the personal pronouns in the “first section” of Matthew 24. After all, Jesus was speaking to living breathing humans when he said that they would see the signs of the impending judgment. We are told that “Jesus said you will see, and that does not mean, we will see!” I have in my files numerous articles by amillennialists like Jurek, and almost invariably, these articles emphasize that we must honor Jesus’ use of the personal pronouns in Matthew 24:4-35. Strangely, and in serious contradiction of this however, the personal pronouns are totally in verses 36- chapter 25! Why are the personal pronouns emphasized in one text, but ignored in others?

[9] In the two Preston/Thrasher debates, I asked Thomas Thrasher (church of Christ minister), this question and he affirmed the end of the endless. When I pressed for an explanation as to how this is possible, I never received any kind of response! In the first of our encounters, I introduced Isaiah 9:6-9 and its affirmation that Christ’s kingdom has no end. Thrasher tried desperately from that point to re-translate the passage to say the exact opposite of what it does say. He very clearly felt the force of the inspired text. Isn’t there something wrong with a doctrine that demands a total redefinition of what the text says? It is directly analogous to saying that “at hand” means “a long time.” The two debates are available from my website: www.eschatology.org

[10] Don K. Preston, The Last Days Identified, (Ardmore, Ok. JaDon Productionsllc, 720 N. Commerce #109, Ardmore, Ok. 73401, 2004). You can order the book off our website: www.eschatology.org

[11] At our just completed Fourth Annual Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, July 15-17, I presented a lesson on 2 Peter 3 in which I prove beyond any doubt that 2 Peter 3 cannot be a prediction of the end of time and material creation. A CD or tape of that lesson is available for $7.50 postpaid. You can order with PayPal, using my email address or send a check or MO to: Don K. Preston, 720 N. Commerce #109, Ardmore, Ok. 73401. Be sure to specify that you are ordering the 2 Peter 3 lesson from our Fourth Annual Preterist Pilgrim Weekend.

[12] See our earlier installments where we examine the single passage that Jurek and his associates contend teaches that Christ will one day surrender the kingdom and throne. 1 Corinthians 15:23f does not teach that Christ will cease to reign!

[13] We have not taken the time to show that Matthew 24:31 is predictive of the resurrection, based on the O. T.. Yet, that is precisely what is at stake. Thus, the parallelism between Matthew and Thessalonians is further established. The problem is that my church of Christ brethren are not, as a general rule familiar with the fact that the Old Testament prophecies of the resurrection lie behind verse 31. This ignorance of the O. T. source of N. T. eschatology is in fact, one of the fundamental flaws in the amillennial eschatology, and we will demonstrate that as we proceed.

[14] This is another of the many huge problems for Jurek. On the one hand, the Bible affirms that the earth will never be destroyed. On the other hand, it affirms the passing of “heaven and earth.” Do we, as the skeptics affirm, have a Biblical contradiction? If Jurek is correct in his eschatology, we do indeed have a Biblical contradiction! However, if we understand that the Bible affirms the endurance of material creation, but the passing of the Old Covenant Creation of Israel’s “heaven and earth” there is no conflict at all.

EWMI's picture

Hi Don,

I can't believe I missed that phrase “According to the Lord's own word" in 1 Thess 4.

Thanks for a great article.

Islamaphobe's picture

This is a very instructive series from which I have learned a lot, not only about Scripture but also about the technique of demolishing bad arguments. Thanks, Don, and I hope that you never get mad at me!

chrisliv's picture

Wow, Don,

Another Grand Slam, and a fourth installment still to come!

I'm going to get some popcorn...

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

davecollins's picture

Dear Don, Please keep up the great work you are doing! Your understanding and teaching of the scriptures is producing fruit in our church.
Our Baptist pastor has cancelled the futurist prophecy conference after reading some of your articles and books. Pray that leaders of all denominations would be humble and open-minded to allow God to change their traditionally held, erroneous views on the nature and timing of the Return/Judgement.
I am tremendously thankful for you. I am a FP and a PF(perfect fulfillment) in large part due to your insights.Your friend, Dave

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