26th Nov 2012
This is my final essay of the debate. I appreciate the privilege of participating. I want to thank Robert for hosting us on this list and to thank the listers for being patient through these lengthy presentations. I sincerely hope it is helpful and that it will continue to be helpful to many folks in the future who are seeking the truth. I invite you to visit my web site. The URL is www.olanhicks.com and my e-mail address is email@example.com.
I appreciate Don participating. I am sorry he resorted to personal reflections, such as accusing me of “obfuscation,” trying to be evasive, and of dishonesty, saying such things as, “That is not true and Olan knows it!” That insinuates that I am intentionally lying. He said it several times, “That is false and Olan knows it!” These are unfortunate insinuations. I think he somehow believes that a debater is supposed to do that. But most of all I am sorry he will not participate in bringing our viewpoints before the scriptures that would answer these questions. I had hoped he would but now I understand why he would not. The reason for that is the basic issue between us.
Stop and think a moment about what has been said and you will realize why Don cannot put these questions directly before the NT passages that address them. You see, he has reversed the normal usage of the entire Bible. Instead of seeing the New Testament as fulfilling and explaining the Old he has Old Testament prophecies explaining and interpreting everything in the New Testament. Did you notice, in the rare cases when he offered a response to a New Testament passage that I cited it was with Old Testament prophecies. For him that is the final word. The New Testament is not the final authority, Old Testament prophecies, as he interprets them, are. He said there is “no eschatology apart from the promises of God to Old covenant Israel after the flesh.” Thus every New Testament passage he considers has to be filtered through OT prophecies and “interpreted.”
Does this really represent what he believes? He indicated it by saying this several times.
“Acts 26:21f: ‘Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come.’ Since Paul said his gospel hope was NOTHING but what was found in the Law of Moses then Olan is dead wrong to deny this.”
In the first place he is not reading correctly. Paul did not say that he said only what the prophets SAID. He said that he said only what the prophets “said would come.” But Don misreads it and concludes that Paul’s “Gospel hope was nothing but what was found in the law of Moses.” That idea won’t fly at all. The same apostle wrote to the Galatians that anyone thinking to be justified by the law has fallen from grace.” (5:4) According to this, if Paul preached only what was found in the law of Moses, it would mean that Paul was an enemy of grace.
There you have it in Don’s own words. This is a cut and paste excerpt from his third negative. He said that “Paul’s Gospel hope was NOTHING but what was found in the law of Moses.” Now we know why he has continued throughout the debate to present again and again his theoretical interpretations of prophecies. Even when I was in the affirmative he continued to present those, evidently believing that was an answer to the NT scriptures I quoted. That is how he concludes that Christ’s second coming was not to be a coming at all but is a Roman military attack on Jerusalem. He thinks Old Testament prophecies call for that. That is how he concludes that the resurrection has occurred, even though the dead have not been raised. He thinks OT prophecies call for that. In the same way he deduces that the heavens and the earth have passed away, even though they are still here. So you see why he cannot afford to bring these matters to the New Testament and measure them by what is stated there. That is not his authority standard. He measures them by OT prophecies, or rather the interpretations he puts on them. His interpretations of those prophecies are his authority standard, not NT specifications.
The key to the riddle: Think about it. What would happen if Don did take these questions to Jesus and the apostles? He would lose on every point. Suppose he asked Paul, “What will the second coming be like?” Paul would say, “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God.” Suppose he asked Jesus, “What will your return be like?” Jesus would say, “I will return and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also.” What if he asked an angel, “How will Jesus return?” He would say, “He will return in like manner as you saw Him go up to heaven.” Suppose he asked John, “Will Jesus be seen when he returns?” John would say, “Every eye shall see Him.” And what if he asked Peter, “Will the heavens and earth pass away at His return?” You know what Peter would say, “It will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elemens will melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” With one voice they all say, “Don, you are wrong.”
I am pleading let’s turn this back around. The inspired NT authors must interpret the prophets, not the other way around. Jesus and the apostles knew the prophesies. The same Holy Spirit who inspired those writings also inspired them. Jesus told the apostles that the Spirit would guide them into all truth.” So they understood the prophecies and spoke in harmony with them. When Don comes along and interprets those prophecies in a different way that ends up contradicting what Jesus and the apostles said, He is arguing with God. This then is our choice. Shall we look to Jesus as the head over all things to the church or to the prophecies of the Mosaic covenant? Is the destiny of God’s people tied to the eschatology of Old covenant Israel after the flesh?
If we asked Paul about it he would clear it up this way: “The church is the household of God and is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” (Eph.2:20) People who embrace the AD70 theory need to realize that God appointed Jesus to be the head over all things to the church. What Jesus and His apostles said about divine “eschatology” is the truth, not human interpretations of prophecies. Throughout the debate my basic argument has continued to be that Don’s concept is a theory and is shown to be wrong by the fact that its conclusions contradict explicit Bible statements, which are inspired.
One of the arguments Don has offered from the first was that “Not one iota of Torah would pass until every iota was fulfilled.” Thus he has the OT remaining in effect until 70 AD. He based this on Mat. 5:17. Usually the word “Torah”is used of the first five books of the Old Testament but Don uses it of the entire Old Testament. In my first negative I replied, “The mistake in his argument is that he assumes the Old Testament was to be destroyed when “all is fulfilled.” He reasons that it remained until AD 70 because that event was predicted in the Torah. With that kind of reasoning you would have the Old Covenant remaining in force until the end of the world because it also speaks of that. The truth is the Old law was not to be destroyed at all. Jesus said He was not going to destroy it but simply to fulfill it.” This is confirmed in Hebrews 8:13, Galatians 5 and elsewhere.
Don is not qualified to do this interpreting.
Before I present more affirmative material I want to show from Don’s own words in his negative essay that he is not logical in his thinking, certainly not to the extent of being qualified as an interpreter of prophecies.
For example. Don has said this several times:
“#1 Signs Versus No Signs My response– Totally Ignored–
Olan ASSUMES-offering no proof- that the disciples asked about the end of the literal world.
In direct response to Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple, they asked about THE END OF THE AGE. Olan, WHAT AGE DID THAT TEMPLE REPRESENT, that caused them to link that destruction with the end of the age? Did the temple represent the Christian age? Of course, he refused to answer.
The disciples asked about ONE COMING- not two. Not a word of response.”
He just has to throw in some chest beating and boasting about his wisdom being unanswerable. But, as usual, he has the facts wrong. The fact is in Mat. 24 the disciples asked three questions, not just one. (1) “Tell us, when will these things be? (2) and what will be the sign of your coming? (3) and of the end of the age?” (Verse 3) I suppose a “prophetic interpretation” changes this into only one question. Actually, what the disciples asked is not the basis of our disagreement anyway. Our issue is about what Jesus said in His answer. It is a fact, recorded in the text, that Jesus spoke of the devastation of Jerusalem, particularly the destruction of the temple, and signs preceeding it, and He also spoke of the passing away of the heavens and the earth and said that no one knows when that will be, not even the angels of heaven but the Father only.” This is why I asked the question, “Did Jesus say opposite things about the same event in the same speech?”
Getting the facts wrong again: Don said this:
Matthew 24:30– They shall see (opthanomai) the Son of Man coming. Olan claims, in regard to Hebrews 9:28, that this word demands “being visible.” Well then, per his “argument” “Christ himself” was visible at his AD 70 parousia! Olan has entrapped himself, again.”
This is really pathetic. In Mat. 24:30 the word is not “opthanomai.” It is“opsontai.” In Hebrews 9:28 the word is “ophthesetai.” Even if you don’t read Greek you can look at these two words and see that they are not the same. But that is not our issue anyway. In Mat. 24:30 there was something to be seen, yes. But the context specifies it was to be a violent attack on Jerusalem. In Hebrews 9:28 what was to be seen is also specified in the context. It was to be a second appearance like the first one when He came to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. He was born and became a man once and He will appear that way a second time. This is what the text says.
One more example. Don said this:
Olan emphasizes “in like manner.”But what was there about Jesus’ appearance in Acts 1– in his mortal body– that even closely resembled his Transfiguration glory? There is no “in like manner” comparison! IGNORED.
I did not “ignore” this. As I explained before, “tropon” does not mean a physical likeness. It refers to a manner of what is done, a procedure. In Acts 1:11 the manner, or procedure, is specified. Jesus will return “in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” It has nothing to do with what His physical appearance is like. It has to do with procedure. They saw Him go up to heaven, He will be seen when He comes back from heaven.
Don insisted that I was obligated to delve into the various prophetic statements he had quoted and write up an analysis of each one. My reply was, “I respectfuly decline Don’s suggestion that instead I should make “arguments,” put my views into an A form syllogism. I will not do that and go into theorizing like he is. I am a follower of the Bible, not an editor of the Bible. I will follow his arguments, but my responses to them will continue to be to cite explicit Bible statements that are contradicted by their theory. I think it is clear that Don and I handle the scriptures differently. Going in we agreed that the Bible is our measuring stick. But it turns out that His measuring stick is his interpretation of prophecies. What he infers from them constitutes his ‘line of proof.’”
In this strange way of interpreting Don comes up with the most contradictory ideas imaginable. One of these is that Jesus, instead of taking His people up with Him to be where He is, brought the city of God down to man, all the way to the earth and some of us are in it. But 1 Thessalonians 4 says that the city will come part way down and The Lord’s people will rise to meet Him in the air and ever remain there with the Lord. Another one, Revelation 21 says that in the eternal city of God there will be no night. But you see, these are New Testament scriptures and that doesn’t count. So Don says we are in that city although nights are occurring every 24 hours.
Both of these specifications are over ruled with prophecy interpretations and the conclusion is drawn that the city has come all the way down to the earth and remains here, and that nights occur regularly in that city, both of which directly contradict God’s word. Even further, explicit statements in Revelation 21 are that there will be no sickness, no death, no sorrow etc. in that city. These also are invalidated by the interpretation of “prophecies.” Also Jesus said that in the resurrection “they neither marry nor are given in marriage….neither can they die anymore.” But Don feels perfectly comfortable conducting weddings for people who marry and funerals for people who die, while saying we are we are beyond the resurrection. He thinks the prophecies justify that.
So now the whole problem with the AD70 theory is unraveled. They are taking these questions before the Old Testament prophecies, not taking them before the New Testament authors. When these questions are brought before the New Testament they will contradict the AD70 theory on every point.
In Don’s four affirmatives his proposition was, The Bible teaches that the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection and judgment occurred at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. He summarized it in his first affirmative with this statement: “Here is my argument: The last days parousia in Isaiah 2-4 is for the vindication of the martyrs and judgment of the persecutors. The coming of the Lord in Isaiah 2-4 is at the judgment of Jerusalem. Therefore, the last days parousia, for the vindication of the martyrs and judgment of the persecutors, would be at the coming of the Lord in judgment of Jerusalem.” His basic argument was that “All New Testament eschatology is the reiteration of, and the expectation of, the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises, made to Old Covenant Israel after the flesh. There are no “new” eschatological prophecies apart from, or divorced from, the promises made to Old Covenant Israel after the flesh.” It turned out that his entire case rests on that assumption. He misrepresented Acts 24:14-15, Acts 26:21f, and Romans 8:23-9:4 to try to make Paul say that the hope of Christians is the eschatology of Old Covenant Israel after the flesh. Paul did not say that.
In my first negative I replied, “Compare that with Colossians 1:23. “If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you have heard…” Paul said it was the hope of the Gospel, not the hope of “God’s Old Covenant promises, made to Old covenant Israel after the flesh.” And compare that with Hebrews 9:13. “In that he says ‘A new covenant’ He has made the first obsolete. Now that which is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
Then there followed a trail of passage after passage, mostly from the Old Testament, woven into some weird reasoning to produce some weird conclusions. This became Don’s entire vocabulary through the rest of the debate. It is what he presented in each affirmative and what he presented as an “answer” to my affirmatives.
In each of his affirmatives Don continued to complain and accuse me of not meeting his arguments. I think it is because he thinks the only valid answer would have to come from OT prophecies. When I presented New Testament answers he considered them no answer at all. Anything contradictory to his theory, even though expressly stated in the words of Jesus and the apostles, does not register to him as authoritative. My argument, “Your conclusions contradict what is expressly said by Jesus and the apostles” he did not see as an answer.
And so it went. Don continued to cite the Old Testament passages and repeat his theoretical conclusions. To this I replied that I had gone back and read all those verses, Isaiah 2-4, 27, 59, Daniel 12 etc. and what they all said was in essence, “God’s gonna git you fer that!” Yes, God predicted an occasion of vengeance and it was made clear in the scriptures that it would happen within the generation of Christ’s earthly ministry. We do not disagree on that. But the passages Don cited predicted that and none of them said it was the second coming of Christ or the end of the world etc. We do not disagree on the Jerusalem event but Don theorized that because some of the same terminology is used in reference to the second coming and the Jerusalem event, that they are one and the same event. My reply to that was that this terminology is used of several different Biblcal incidents. “Avenging the blood of the martyrs” is an example. Many times God avenged the killing of His servants. That did not link them together. Saul’s orders to destroy the Amalakites was one such occasion. Punishing His people for disobedience by bringing their enemies down upon them was another. The various captivities are examples of that.
It became quite clear that what Don is doing is drawing “inferences” from the prophecies with which he thinks to calculate the time of Christ’s second coming. All of his arguments for fixing that time to be AD70 are based on those interpretations of prophecies. So in my third negative I cited the fact that in every case where someone has tried to set the date of His return by that means, prophetic interpretation, and thought they had it right, they turned out to be wrong. There was William Miller and his followers in 1844, Charles Taze Russell and his followers in 1874 and 1914, Ellen G. White and others. Ironically, those date setters used many of the same prophecies as the AD70 people use now, especially the prophecies of Daniel. I pointed out in that essay that Jesus said no one can know that date. He would not have said that if the prophecies contained clues that would enable someone to calculate the date. So they are using a procedure that has always turned out to be wrong.
So the AD70 theory is wrong from the foundation up. (1) It is begun in the first place by a procedure that has turned out to be wrong every time it was tried, using interpretations of Biblical prophecies to calculate the date of Christ’s second coming. (2) It uses an interpretive procedure that is reversed. It applies prophetic interpretations to over rule Jesus and the apostles instead of the apostles being seen as the final interpreters of God’s will. (3) It stands in open contradiction to every NT specification as to what Christ’s second coming will consist of. They say it was not a coming in person, that He was not seen and will not be. They say the resurrection occurred but the dead still remain in the graves. They say that Satan was destroyed but we still are being tempted. They say that the heavens and earth passed away but are still here. They say that the city of God, New Jerusalem, came down but people in it still marry, still die, still suffer all the ailments of the flesh, and there still is sorrow and crying. (4) It removes the one hope Christians have always had, which Peter said “is reserved in heaven for you,” and instead says that our hope lies in the eschatology of Old covenant Israel according to the flesh.
The promise of God. What we are dealing with here is not an incidental matter. The return of Christ is a promise of God, set in the solid foundation of His word. Peter wrote that in the last days scoffers would be asking “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:4) At verses 9 & 10 he said that the Lord is not slack concerning that promise, He is just patient. But His second coming is a promise and that promise will be kept. Then he describes the total passing away of the heavens and the earth and then mentions another promise. “Never the less we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
All of the New Testament authors treated these promises as actual. Paul, for example, said that we have to be changed, that it is necessary for this “mortal to put on immortality.” (1 Cor. 15:53) Even those who will still be living when Christ reurns “will be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” (Vs. 51-52) John wrote that the final destiny of God’s people is the Holy city, “New Jerusalem” in which none of the frailties of the flesh will exist. (Revelation 21) Paul wrote that The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of the arch angel and the trumpet of God, and we will rise to meet Him in the air and ever be there with Him. (1 Thess. 4:16) At verse 15 he said, “This we say by the word of the Lord.” So these are promises which are given us from God. They are confirmed repeatedly in His word. In that way the “divine signature” is put on them. These promises will not fail. We need to believe them and be prepared for their fulfillment.
Now, to conclude the debate Don will have the final negative. According to the rules we agreed on the final negatve is not to introduce any new material not previously discussed, or new arguments, because the affirmative would not have opportunity to reply. So he will simply reiterate what he has been saying and summarize his proposition, perhaps organize it into the most understandable form possible, and reply to my arguments.
As you read his arguments again, keep in mind these established facts: (1) The conclusions Don has affirmed are purely a theory, drawn from his interpretation of OT prophecies. Those conclusions contradict all of the New Testament authors. (2) The word “resurrection,” by definition, means raised from the dead. A resurrection cannot happen if the dead are not raised. (3) The return of Christ is a promise of God, spoken by Jesus personally. Peter said The Lord will keep that promise, and described what it will consist of. God would not make that promise and then have it turn out to be only a military attack on Jerusalem. (4) All of the New Testament authors pointed to a day that God has appointed in which we will all stand before the judgment of God. Jesus said, “The words which I have spoken shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48) This has always been the primary motivation for preaching the Gospel, the need to prepare for that day. It is coming. (5) The hope of Christians has always been deliverance from this world, from life in the flesh, and eternal life with God in a resurrected body, in the place Jesus has gone to prepare, where there is no sin, no pain, no suffering or sorrow and no Satan.
The AD70 theory reduces these factors in God’s plan to symbollic occurrences, not real. That robs them of their real meaning. In symbollic form they would not be the answer to the dilemma of life in the flesh. As real occurrences they are the answer. Paul wrote that our acceptance with God depends on our being “not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which you have heard.” (Col. 1:23) To the Corinthians Paul said they are saved by the Gospel “If you keep in mind what I have preached to you.” He said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
I bear no ill will toward anyone. Each person will answer to God, not to me. But I have invested my life in preaching the Gospel because I care about souls. I have no choice but to oppose the AD70 theory and say what the Bible says about it because I believe it is a very dangerous deception, bidding to turn people away from the plan of God for human redemption. The only authority I have to offer is the clearly stated word of God in the Bible and that is what I have given you. For each of you who read this I hope that is sufficient. To those for whom that is not sufficient, I have nothing else to offer. I pray that God will bless you with wisdom as you consider what His word says in contrast to human theories that would distort it.
Yours in the love of God and Christ;