By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.
The first five minutes of this new series of Preston’s on yours truly – on my book, The Parousia of the Son of Man – is a downright vicious attack. Basically, according to Preston, I am not just a liar, but am a bald face liar. I say things that I know are not true and say them anyway. That’s the definition of a liar. Preston spends almost five minutes in the opening of this new series basically telling his devoted followers (who take every word of his as Gospel) that I am a con, a cheat, a liar, and that I abuse every known tool of exegesis and research. Folks, this is called “poisoning the well” before one even begins to get into the actual material. It is deceptive. But, then again, so is Full Preterism.
Now, Preston does actually quote a line from the book, page 3, wherein I wrote, “It is a bodily presence, an arrival of somebody that is present and accounted for”. And, Preston admits that this is a meaning of the term (he cannot escape that). In fact, at the 4.11 mark in the video he states that if this is the meaning of the term, then I “might have a case”. Interesting. Let that sink in.
Preston then goes into creating a smokescreen by “quoting” from several works of scholars (Colin Brown, Deismann, Kittel’s Dictionary, Dunn). What I never tire of pointing out is that none of these scholars would come close to affirming Full Preterism as Preston defines it! Preston goes on to say that “presence” is used of God – who is without a body – by Josephus (Antiquities) – giving the impression that I do not source Josephus (I do, page 9). However, I only quote where that first century historian used the term in reference to actual people. Preston’s point – what he wants his devotees to “get” – is that I am being misleading. I’m not. I, too, have the sources (and have read them) that he quotes. Josephus does indeed use the term “parousia” for God’s “manifestation.” God is without a body. Therefore, so Preston’s presupposition wants you to think, Jesus’ parousia in 70 AD is invisible. Preston, however, fails to note that the use of parousia for God’s presence highlights my point.
God is omnipresent – everywhere always at all times. This presence of Him is sometimes visibly manifested – noting the fact of His presence (which always is). When we speak of God “coming down” or “going up” we scholars know – and even have invented a term – that this is speaking anthropomorphically – speaking of God – who has no shape, no form, no eyes, and is not an old man “up there” in heaven. Now, Preston knows all of this (or he should). Thus, when Paul speaks of Jesus as being “in the form (morphe in Greek) of God” – every NT scholar notes the meaning of the word morphe cannot mean that God has a form in terms of a shape. The other meaning of morphe is nature, essence – and hence, Paul’s assertion is that the Son – the Divine Logos – is of the essence of God prior to his becoming human schema (Philippians 2.7). Now, this word, schema, speak of the actual outer form of the man, Christ Jesus. Schema is not used of God – who has no schema. Keep this in mind because it is devastating to Preston’s admission.
Preston also states that I nowhere include references or mention that parousia is used for “gods” and “dignitaries” – which is simply false (or he did not read the fine print). On page 8 I wrote, “Many other examples can be shown designating the arrival of a King, dignitary, a god, and such. The point of this part of the study is to demonstrate that parousia and its verbal cognate pareimi are in reference to an advent of a person, or that a person is now present (wherever they are).” Preston merely takes one slice of a several page study on the word, parousia, and that is all. Deceptive.
Now, Preston’s view admits that Jesus returned in 70 AD, that is, the son of man came on the clouds of judgment to Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, Preston does not believe Jesus ascended as a son of man in heaven. Jesus, upon his ascension, “divested and destroyed” his schema as a man! He is no longer a man as we think of being a man. Rather, the Logos is God who “retains the memory of” of once being a man when he was a man “in the days of his flesh.” So, I ask (and have asked), if Jesus is no longer a man – a son of man – then how can the son of man appear in 70 AD without being a full man? One of those “duh” moments.
Hopefully, Preston, in this series, will actually deal with the material in the book, which is having great success by the accounts I receive. Preston says this book is a “response to Full Preterism” – it’s not. I never mention any Full Preterist arguments, never quote a Full Preterist, nor had any intention of defeating Full Preterism in terms of writing this book. It’s a study based on Lexical entries, semantics, and the usage of the term and idea concerning the parousia of the son of man.
Aside from Preston’s admitting that parousia is used of God’s specific manifestation of His Omnipresence – did anyone in the examples of Josephus, flee? Did God manifest himself to Moses and the 70 elders? When God showed up to Elijah, did Elijah flee? If Jesus was going to appear “in the glory of his Father” (Preston’s strange twist on what that meant), why would Jesus tell them to flee where he was to appear? In fact, Paul spoke of Jesus’ parousia in terms of believers being right there when he descends! Was Paul telling the Thessalonians to flee? If Jesus appeared in Jerusalem invisibly, locally, in terms of a manifestation (phanoo – Greek) in 70 AD, then when did he descend and appear to the Thessalonians located hundreds of miles in Asia Minor?
I greatly look forward to Preston’s new series about my book, which can be found here