By Samuel M. Frost Th.M.
The continued informal, written “debate” between my former Mentor Mr. Preston and myself may appear to many to simply be a waste of time. It’s not. Many have benefited from this in seeing just how disparaging the orthodox view is compared to Preston’s. For that I will continue to engage in this venue of writing responses (to which there appears to be no end in sight).
Part of my point is to show how far the view of Covenant Eschatology (Preston’s novel approach) is with mainstream Christianity. Preston’s view has not even convinced a good number of Full Preterists (which is another name for Preston’s view). So, I am not alone here. Of course, we could all just be “deluded” and off our rockers.
Preston’s latest “response” continues down the same line as he has before: Sam has almost, if not completely, lost his mind. Sam “flip flops”. Sam “makes things up as he goes along.” Sam “lies.” Same “twists words” out of context and deliberately “misrepresents” Preston. And so on. I understand full well the “attack the opponent” and “poison the well” techniques used in argumentation.
Notice this comment, for example, from Preston about my view, “He is on record saying he is not interested in what the Bible says about when fulfillment would be.” Folks, this is just false. As I noted in one of my first articles, Preston equates his view with the words of Scripture, and I stated that I was not interested in what Preston thinks on this, but what the Bible says. To reject Preston’s view is not to reject the Bible. To reject my view is not to reject the Bible. Yet, Preston, I should add, knows full well that I made this distinction. As a theologian who concentrates on the area of Eschatology, is Preston actually saying that I wrote somewhere, “I do not care what the BIBLE says about when fulfillment will be”? No. You will not find this statement anywhere. This is “poisoning the well.” It’s a lie. A falsehood.
On the point of Ezekiel 7, Preston wants to suggest that I am one of the “scoffers”. Well, again, this is just false. I do scoff at Preston’s view, but not Ezekiel. Ezekiel announced the imminent end (589 B.C.). It happened. It was the “end of all things.” Well, “all things” has to be understood from the context. The world did not end in 589 B.C. As I have written in my book, Why I Left Full Preterism, there have been many “days” of the LORD when he shows up with great wrath. And, as I explicitly wrote in my book, “we do not deny that AD 70 was a ‘day of the Lord’…we deny that it was the last day of the Lord” (p. 31). Thus, any text of “imminent” context found in the NT must be investigated in each and every case. I am not sure if Preston realizes it or not (my sarcasm is thick here), but I do call myself, or my view, Historic or Orthodox Preterism. He seems to be under the delusion, or wants his readers to think that I am under the delusion that AD 70 was merely an incidental event. I have never said nor suggested that. It’s just not the event of all events that Preston makes it out to be, where all that God ever intended to be fulfilled was fulfilled (which, is the main cause of concern when Christians first hear of this view, because it immediately raises the concern of Church History – and the attempts to address 2000 years by the Full Preterists are all over the place here).
“I understand your views very well,” writes Preston. Well, no, he doesn’t if he says that I care nothing about fulfillment. He doesn’t if he says I “ignore” the time-statements of imminence. The text of 1st Peter, where this beloved Apostle wrote, “the end of all things is at hand”, could be in reference to the coming catastrophe of Jerusalem’s demise. However, and this is critical to understand for it really gets to the heart of the whole matter, to force Peter into meaning that he believed the resurrection of the dead was right around the corner is a whole other issue.
Listen to Preston’s words here: “The only reason that Frost– or his commentators- attempt this totally unjustified, non-contextual ploy is because of their materialistic attachment to the idea of physical bodies coming out of the dirt.” Please note this. “Because” of their materialistic attachment to the idea of physical bodies coming out of dirt. Note the “mockery” of this doctrine. It is a mocking of what the overwhelmingly vast majority of the Church has believed and believes. However, there are good reasons for believing, not in the caricature of Preston’s malign asserts, but in what the Scriptures say. The Orthodox view didn’t just fall out of the sky. And, it is here, precisely on this issue, that rather than see the “clear” presentation of Paul in 1st Corinthians 15 as speaking of a bodily resurrection, Preston takes what he sees as “clear” time texts and reinterprets Paul’s “body” language to fit with AD 70. And, it is precisely here that within Full Preterism itself as a whole that a massive dividing line has been drawn against Preston’s reinterpretation (ala Max King). So, it’s not just “me”.
At first Preston wants to make it appear as if I “make this up” as I go along. Here he states that “his commentators” do, in fact, exist. It’s just that they are “deluded”. Men like Calvin, or Moses Stuart, or Rosenmueller, Charles, Maurer and others. He quotes from an article I wrote 7 years ago as “proof” of my “constant flip-flopping.” Well, Preston should be careful here. If a person who is, say, a Dispensationalist comes across a book by John Bray or John Gill and becomes a Preterist (changes their view), is that a “flip flop”? Let’s say this same person then reads Edward Stevens or John Noe and becomes a Full Preterist. Flip flop? Then, let us say that this person comes across Max King and Don Preston’s books, and they become a believer in Covenant Eschatology. Flip-flop? If a person who watched these changes of his one-time fellow Dispensationalist, would he be able to charge him with, “flip-flopping”? In Preston’s world, there is no room for a person changing his mind upon further study. There is no room whatsoever. But, the above account is my own. Was Preston charging me with “flip flopping” then? No. Ad hominem’s never work, Don, old friend. Yes, I have used them. They never work, or prove anything. At bottom, they prove that a person “changed their mind.” Is that a crime?
Preston writes, “So, even though Daniel does predict the resurrection that does not mean that the resurrection would occur at the time that heaven itself designated!” Note the set-up here. If heaven declared that the resurrection is to happen “at the time” (AD 70, for Preston), and Frost negates this, then Frost is negating Scripture.
All that Preston has to do at this point, or anyone else for that matter, is take one of the Commentaries I mentioned, Moses Stuart, and turn to his comments on Daniel 12. I couldn’t have written it better myself. Stuart is recognized as one of the foremost textual scholars of the 19th century. This does not make him correct. It does, however, add weight. My claim is not made up. It is not baseless. I am not “flip-flopping” with “every” paper I write. This is, again, poisoning the well. Make your opponent look like a total idiot. Total idiots can’t be right. Therefore, Frost is wrong. Now, to some extent, I agree that I am a total idiot. Ask anyone that knows me. But, on Scripture, my entire mood changes. These are the oracles of God – to be handled with extreme care.
Secondly, and please forgive me if I cannot expound on the entirely of the Book of Daniel at this time due to space (!), my critical studies on this book (over 2 decades) have favorably (among peers) landed me in a very comfortable interpretation – having been a Full Preterist, a Dispensationalist (as a kid growing up), a Preterist (which is a very common interpretation). Seeing Daniel from several angles over my career allows one the luxury of arguing several sides from the standpoint of previously held convictions of what the Book said. However, “towing the line” and “going with the flow” was never really my cup of tea, especially when it comes to interpretations (and especially in Daniel which has been subjected to a myriad of interpretations). Hence, I have launched out on writing a Commentary.
Preston makes a few comments on Daniel 12 (which I already know his view like the back of my hand). I once preached the very points he makes here. With conviction. Yet, there were always “unanswered questions” I had in the back of my head. “Tow the line…..ignore them.” Having left Full Preterism, I am now at a place where I am no longer ignoring them. They nagged me then, and they nag me now (nagging is not allowed in Preston’s world, one might be guilty of “thinking outside the box”).
Let the reader notice in Preston’s response that not once….not once, does he mention Daniel 11. Actually, Daniel 10-11. Two whole chapters. Preston, rather, starts with chapter 12, as if it is somehow dislodged from the two previous chapters. But, there is one, clear undeniable phrase in Daniel 12.1: “At that time….” And, we know that this phrase directly links us with 11.45. Directly. There is no denying this, or getting around it. It is a time statement, a time text.
“At that time, Michael shall stand up.” At what time? Here is a bona fide time statement if there ever was one. At that time. “That” time. What time? When? Well, 11.45 answers this: “He will pitch his royal pavilion between the sea and the beautiful holy mountain, and he will meet his doom with no one to help him.” There are many, many commentaries that write, convincingly, that this is Antiochus Epiphanes IV (I even have a Full Preterist commentary that asserts the very same thing!). As stated, this is not the place to go into the details involved.
But, Preston wants to give the impression that the questions, “how long until these things are accomplished” in chapter 12 begins with chapter 12. Rather, the whole vision of what is the subject matter starts in chapter 10! Preston somehow forgot chapter 11. The angel in chapter 12 alludes to two events already mentioned in chapter 11. “The power of the saints shall be scattered/shattered” (12.7), and “the abominations that causes desolations” (12.11). In Daniel 11.22, “And the arms of the flood are overflowed from before him, and are broken; and also the leader of the covenant.” “Forces will be levied by him; they will desecrate the temple, the fortress; they will abolish the regular offering and set up the appalling abomination” (11.31). Doesn’t sound too good for Judah. “The knowledgeable among the people will make the many understand; and for a while they shall fall by sword and flame, suffer captivity and spoliation” (11.33). Folks, Judah suffered a horrible period of years under Antiochus IV, where even a massive faction of Jews killed their own people. The High Priest was slaughtered. An idol was set up in the Holy of Holies. A pig was slaughtered as well. Absolute blasphemy.
Whatever the case, the context of chapter 12 is clearly chapter 11 (and the massive support of the commentaries, Jewish and Christian are simply too overwhelming to ignore). Preston has built his entire case, it seems, on a very shaky interpretation – not a Praeterist one, at that. The Praeterist view is that Antiochus IV is the “King” here, and the power of the saints were indeed shattered under his footsteps….for a time. Those that “instruct many” and were “righteous” (we read about them in 1st and 2nd Maccabees), along with those of the same tribe of Judah that were “corrupt” and “deceived many.” Of them, the many, they shall be raised to everlasting doom. Of the same “many” (Judah), they are promised to be raised to “everlasting life.” We are not told when (and of the import of what kind of “resurrection” we are talking about, one need only read one of the most famous chapters in Jewish history, 2nd Maccabees chapter 7). Now, Preston can scoff, flail his arms, and quote his commentaries, and that’s fine. We disagree. But, the charge that I “make this stuff up as I go along” is entirely false. It’s a lie. The readers have to make up their own mind. There are alternatives that are more sound than Preston’s truly “made up” corporate body resurrection (invisible body resurrection) –that has historical depth.
The fact of the matter is, the incredible history of Judah from 165/164 B.C.E. to the time of Christ sets the stage for his ministry. All the chief characters are a direct result of Antiochus IV’s rampage (which is also explicitly mentioned in Daniel 8, and I would add Daniel 7 and 9 – let me add irony here: it was a Full Preterist that has recently helped me in my interpretation here). Even the members of the Qumran Community are a direct result of Antiochus IV wrath, and what played out as a result. Hanukkah comes from this time, the “festival of lights” mentioned in John’s Gospel. Did Moses command this feast? Jesus does not appear to be celebrating it. He is walking around Solomon’s Porch (not actually Solomon’s Porch, but Herod’s porches that were named after Solomon).
Any way. Food for thought.